Many Americans Use Cell Phones to Text, Entertain Themselves

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, American adults use their cell phones mostly to text and take pictures, but also to avoid interacting with people and to stave off boredom.

The study concluded that 83 percent of American adults own some kind of cell phone and while text messaging and picture taking remain predominant for the device's use, 42 percent use it for entertainment when bored and 13 percent of owners have used it to avoid interaction with others by purposefully using it when other people were around.

Other common usages include sending a photo or video (54 percent), accessing the internet (44 percent), sending or receiving an email (35 percent), playing a game (35 percent), and listening to music (34 percent).

cell phone(Image: Pew Internet & American Life Project)Most Common Ways Americans Use their Cell Phones

For some 20 percent of owners, many of these advantages, non-existent even 10 to 15 years ago, come with complaints. They complained that cell phones caused them frustration for being too slow in downloading something. Others, 16 percent, found the cell phone screens too small to see.

The study also found that 29 percent of the people turn them off occasionally due to needing a break from their phones; and 27 percent said they found it hard to do something without their phone at hand.

For young adults, ages 18-29, the survey found the results to be a bit more extreme:

  • 70 percent of cell owners use it to for entertainment when bored,
  • 64 percent used it to quickly retrieve information
  • 42 percent have trouble doing something for not having phone at hand
  • 30 percent have used it to avoid other people

The results were based on a national telephone survey of 2,277 adults conducted between April 26 and May 22, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 2 percentage points.