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Generations and gadgets: Old(er) folks own most e-readers

Seven percent of "younger boomers," those now between the ages of 47 and 56, and 6 percent of those ages 66 to 74, own e-readers, the highest percentages among all age groups for devices like Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook or Sony's Reader. 

That's according to a new report, "Generations and their gadgets," released Thursday by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Another interesting tidbit: More Gen Xers (ages 35-46) own a game console than a laptop or an MP3 player, and they're the most likely to own a desktop computer.

Pew's report is based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between Aug. 9 and Sept. 13, 2010, among a sample of 3,001 adults, age 18 and older.

Here's a breakdown by age group of gadget ownership, plus highlights of Pew's findings:

  • Cell phones are by far the most popular device among American adults, especially for adults under the age of 65. Some 85 percent of adults own cell phones overall. Taking pictures (done by 76 percent of cell owners) and text messaging (done by 72 percent of cell owners) are the two non-voice functions that are widely popular among all cell phone users.
  • Desktop computers are most popular with adults ages 35-65, with 69 percent of Gen X, 65 percent of Younger Boomers and 64 percent of Older Boomers owning these devices.
  • Millennials are the only generation that is more likely to own a laptop computer than a desktop: 70 percent own a laptop, compared with 57 percent who own a desktop.
  • While almost half of all adults own an MP3 player like an iPod, this device is by far the most popular with Millennials, the youngest generation — 74 percent of adults ages 18-34 own an MP3 player, compared with 56 percent of the next oldest generation, Gen X (ages 35-46).
  • Game consoles are significantly more popular with adults ages 18-46, with 63 percent owning these devices.
  • 5 percent of all adults own an e-book reader; they are least popular with adults age 75 and older, with 2 percent owning this device.
  • Tablet computers, such as the iPad, are most popular with American adults age 65 and younger. 4 percent of all adults own this device.

Pew also said about one in 11 (9 percent) adults "do not own any of the devices we asked about, including 43 percent of adults age 75 and older." That's right, 48 percent of people 75 or older don't even have a cell phone.