American Cell Phone Usage Statistics (2011)

Have you ever been at a party and felt an awkward moment, so pulled out your cell phone and pretended to text, check an email, or chat?

You are not alone. A recent PEW study found that 13 percent of Americans admit to using their cell phones to prevent unwanted social interactions. Hmm. Perhaps that’s why everyone’s always “texting” in the elevator.

The study, called Americans and Their Cell Phones, offers several quirky statistics about how the ubiquitous little machines in our pockets are transforming our daily lives.

  • The study, for example, found that more than half of all adult cell owners (51 percent) used their handsets at least once for quick information retrieval in the last month. This could be firing up your browser to ask a question, launching an app to find a nearby restaurant, or tapping into your smartphone-based map to get directions. About one quarter of Americans (27 percent) said they experienced a situation in the past month in which not having their cell phones at hand caused them to have trouble doing something.
  • The PEW data suggested that cell phones are important tools in emergencies; 40 percent of mobile phone owners said they found themselves in an emergency situation and having their cell phone helped.
  • Many Americans use their cell phones for entertainment; 42 percent said they used their mobile phones to help combat boredom.
  • Some Americans find overloaded by the constant influx of information from cell phones; 29 percent of cell owners turned their handsets off for a period of time just to have a break from it.
  • As with any technology, mobile devices do come with some frustration; 20 percent of cell phone users reported that they had been frustrated because their handset had taken too long to download something; 16 percent complained that they had difficulty reading something because of their device’s small screen size; and 10 percent had difficulty entering a lot of text on their mobile devices.
  • Text messaging and picture taking are the most popular uses for mobile devices; 73 percent of Americans use their handsets for both.
  • 54 percent of cell owners send pictures or videos to others; 44 percent use their mobile devices to access the Internet
  • 53 percent of American adults own a smartphone
  • 90 percent of Americans use their mobile handsets either for texting or sending pictures
Here’s how PEW conducted the survey:
The results reported here are based on a national telephone survey of 2,277 adults conducted April 26-May 22, 2011. 1,522 interviews were conducted by landline phone, and 755 interviews were conducted by cell phone. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.
Click here for more comprehensive cell phone usage statistics.
4 Responses to American Cell Phone Usage Statistics (2011)
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