Almost One-In-Five Americans Use a Smart Watch or Fitness Tracker

As 2020 begins—and health-related New Year’s resolutions take effect—roughly one-in-five U.S. adults (21 percent) say they regularly wear a smart watch or wearable fitness tracker, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted June 3-17, 2019.

As is true with many other forms of digital technology, use of these devices varies substantially by socioeconomic factors. Around three-in-ten Americans living in households earning $75,000 or more a year (31 percent) say they wear a smart watch or fitness tracker on a regular basis, compared with 12 percent of those whose annual household income falls below $30,000.

Differences by education follow a similar pattern, with college graduates adopting these devices at higher rates than those who have a high school education or less, according to the survey of 4,272 U.S. adults.

A fitness tracker can compile a variety of data about the wearer’s activities, depending on the complexity of the device. Users can monitor this data with a corresponding app, where they can manually input additional information about themselves and their lifestyle. As a result, the makers of fitness trackers amass a wealth of data on their users that can be used in many ways. Current privacy policies for many fitness tracking apps allow users’ data to be shared with others. Some researchers are already using data from these apps for health research.  

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