According to a 2012 Pew study, 34% of Americans making less than $30k a year have a smartphone, a 12% jump from the year before which is the greatest percent increase in any income bracket.
This could be a positive in terms of closing the digital divide but unless they are using a supercheap service like a prepaid monthly plan at $50 a month and a used phone, they are spending over $700 a year+ and it seems more like conspicuous consumption than an appropriate line item. It’s way too much money considering what this group’s fixed expenses would be. Also, I believe this is close to what is considered poverty in the US according to federal standards. The question is whether there are benefits to these families and individuals in terms of earning potential, educational attainment and overall well-being that justifies the expenses.
“U.S. median household income fell from $51,144 in 2010 to $50,502 in 2011. Extreme poverty in the United States, meaning households living on less than $2 per day before government benefits, doubled from 1996 to 1.5 million households in 2011, including 2.8 million children.“