Expert Commentary

Pew report: Americans and their cellphones, 2011

2011 report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project on the ways Americans use mobile phones.

cellphone user (Shutterstock)

As of 2011, 83% of American adults own a cellphone and 35% own some form of “smartphone.” This equals more than 300 million mobile phones currently in use, up from 86 million just a decade ago.

A 2011 report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Americans and Their Cell Phones,” used data from telephone interviews conducted in April and May 2011, among a sample of 2,277 adults aged 18 and older, to catalog how Americans view and use their mobile phones.

Key findings include:

  • Overall, 51% of mobile phone owners use their devices to access information, 42% as entertainment devices, and a full 13% to avoid interacting with the people around them. For users under the age of 29, 70% use them to stave off boredom and 30% have pretended to talk on phones to avoid interpersonal contact.
  • Since an earlier report in May 2010, five of the most prevalent activities had risen significantly, including “sending photos and videos” (up from 36% to 54%), “accessing the Internet” (from 38% to 44%) and “sending and receiving email” (from 34% to 38%).
  • For smartphone users (35% of Americans), 92% take pictures and send text messages (as opposed to just 59% of traditional cell phone users), 84% access the Internet, 76% access email, 69% download apps, 64% play games and 59% record videos. Only 13% of smart phone users, however, utilize video-call or video-chat features.
  • A complementary report by the Pew Center found that 28% of American mobile phone owners use location-based services to get directions or place-based recommendations. This equals 23% of all American adults.

The researchers ultimately found that “cell owners value their phones for quick information retrieval, for entertainment, and for assistance in emergency situations. At the same time, a number of cell owners report that they have turned off their phone to get a break from using it, and that they can have trouble accomplishing desired tasks when their phone is not available.”

Tags: consumer affairs, survey, technology, telecommunications, mobile tech

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