Pew Research Study Reveals Trends in Smart Watches, Fitness Trackers

For many Americans, the start of a new year marks a time to kick start their health and wellness resolutions—something that may be easier to manage in 2020, as about one in five Americans (21 percent) regularly wear a fitness tracker or smart watch, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

The survey of 4,272 adults also revealed trends about consumers who sport these goods. The highest percentage of users—three out of 10, or 31 percent—live in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more, and 27 percent have a college education. On the contrary, the smallest user pools are people with a high school education or less (15 percent) and those in households with an annual income of $30,000 or less (12 percent).

Results of this survey, which reveal a clear link between education and annual income with the incidence of consumers who own fitness trackers, also note differences in use among genders, ethnicities and ages. One in four consumers donning fitness trackers or smart watches are female (25 percent versus 18 percent male) and 26 percent are Hispanic, followed by 23 percent who are African American, and 20 percent who are Caucasian. When it comes to age, one in four users are between 18-49 years old (25 percent). And although most fitness tracker consumers reside in suburban areas (24 percent), distribution is relatively the same across the board: 20 percent reside in urban areas and 18 in rural areas.

The growing trend of fitness trackers and smart watches comes, in part, as the devices grow in capacity and function. While tracking activity—like steps walked and distance traveled—is a main function, it is also one of the more basic, with features available to monitor heart rate, calories burned, sleep quality and time and GPS location. Because the data collected is so rich, it’s often sought out by health care companies and other third parties, but consumers have mixed feelings when it comes to the companies sharing users’ private data with outside sources. According to Pew, nearly two out of five Americans (41 percent) feel it is acceptable for their device to be used for heart disease research, specifically, but 35 percent find it unacceptable and 22 percent are not sure, suggesting there’s still more privacy-related kinks to work out. Furthermore, 53 percent of all fitness tracker users approve of their data being used for this purpose, while 29 percent find it unacceptable and 18 percent are unsure.

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