Pew Study: We’re Basically on Our Phones All the Time

September 2, 2015

12:54 pm

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, Americans are almost never away from their mobile phones. It also notes that of the 92 percent of U.S. adults owning some kind of cellphone, 90 percent say their phones are frequently with them – with 45 percent claiming they rarely turn their phones off. The study by Pew looks at the effect of round-the-clock cellphone and smartphone use on American sentiments on mobile etiquette – exploring the social behaviors that have become normative alongside our progression in the digital age.

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Past studies have shown that mobile technology is actually changing our brains, so it should be no surprise that what’s become acceptable or unacceptable as social norms has also changed. According to 82 percent of adults surveyed by Pew, mobile phone use during or within group interactions can frequently or occasionally hurt the overall conversation. In spite of this opinion, 89 percent of cellphone owners say they’ve used their more during their most recent social gathering. It seems that while we have our beliefs on what’s acceptable mobile etiquette, we fail to uphold ourselves to those same standards.

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The study also looks at the various different public spaces/situations where and when it’s okay to pull out a cellphone. It’s generally accepted that it’s fine for people to pull out their phones while walking down the street, riding public transportation, or while waiting in line. But when it comes to a restaurant or during a meeting, 62 percent and 94 percent of respondents respectively say that it’s not okay. These two latter behaviors, though, are certainly things we’ve seen committed amongst our peers (and indeed by ourselves) – another indication that deluding ourselves to these higher standards of mobile etiquette.

The Pew study also looks into the ways through which Americans interact with their smartphones in public – whether that’s pulling it out to look up information on where you’re going and how to get there, or to initiate a conversation with a friend or family member. You can take a look at the full study on mobile etiquette from Pew here.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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