Some 85% of American adults own a cell phone, and these mobile devices now play a central role in many aspects of their owners’ lives according to a new survey. For many cell owners, their phone is an essential utility that they check frequently, keep close at all times, and would have trouble functioning without:
- 67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. Some 18% of cell owners say that they do this “frequently."
- 44% of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.
- 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without."
Despite this connection to their devices, most cell owners don’t worry too much (or get many complaints from their friends) about spending too much time with their phones:
- 11% of cell owners say that they themselves sometimes worry that they are spending too much time with their phone.
- 12% of cell owners say that people they know tell them that they are spending too much time using their phone.
Indeed, many cell owners hear complaints from friends that they don’t devote enough time to monitoring their mobile communications:
- 39% of cell owners say that people they know have complained because they don’t respond promptly to phone calls or text messages.
- 33% of cell owners say that people they know have complained because they don’t check their phone frequently enough.
“In a nutshell, this is the modern dilemma: There is pronounced social pressure for people to stay connected and respond quickly to the incoming blizzard of contact from others. At the same time, many people wish they could disengage every once in a while,” said Aaron Smith, research associate and lead author of the report. “The challenge is for people to manage their time and their contacts in a way that gives them oases of peace and quiet, without being so disconnected that they miss out on important social moments.”
About the Survey
The results reported here come from a nationwide survey of 2,254 adults (age 18 and older) between March 15-April 3, 2012, including interviews on landline and cell phones and conducted in English and Spanish. The overall sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. Some 1,954 cell users were interviewed in this sample and many of the results published here involve that subset of users. The margin of error for data involving cell users is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. General ownership figures for cell phones and smartphones come from a nationwide survey of 3,014 adults (age 18 and older) between August 7-September 6, 2012, including interviews on landline and cell phones and conducted in English and Spanish.