Mobile Connectivity in Emerging Economies

After more than a decade of studying the spread and impact of digital life in the United States, Pew Research Center has intensified its exploration of the impact of online connectivity among populations in emerging economies – where the prospect of swift and encompassing cultural change propelled by digital devices might be even more dramatic than the effects felt in developed societies. Surveys conducted in 11 emerging and developing countries across four global regions find that the vast majority of adults in these countries own – or have access to – a mobile phone of some kind. And these mobile phones are not simply basic devices with little more than voice and texting capacity: A median of 53% across these nations now have access to a smartphone capable of accessing the internet and running apps. Some key takeaways:

  • Majorities say mobile phones and social media have mostly been good for them personally, but somewhat less so for society. 
  • While mobile phone users largely agree that their phones help them get news, many are concerned about the spread of misinformation when using their phone.
  • Public attitudes have become more positive about the internet’s influence on certain facets of society, like the economy and education, in most countries surveyed. 

Mobile Connectivity in Emerging Economies 7 key findings about mobile phone and social media use in emerging economies