Mobile phone use: What’s OK, what’s not, according to survey

Is it OK to use your mobile phone during dinner or at the movies? Most Americans say no, according to a new report. But watch out for the inattentive, because 77 percent are “generally OK” with cellphone use while walking down the street.

In a report released today, Pew Research takes a look at the effects surrounding the fact that 92 percent of U.S. adults have a cellphone, and 90 percent of them “frequently” carry their phones with them.

How does all this affect social interactions? Of course people can pull out their phones to dazzle other partygoers trying to figure out who’s singing that song on the radio. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed said they used their phones to gather “information that would be interesting to the group.”

And many people who used their phones in public are doing so to connect with others, with 70 percent saying they frequently or occasionally use their phones to coordinate get-togethers, and 67 percent saying they frequently or occasionally used their phones to catch up with family and friends.

But according to the report, “in general, Americans feel that when people use their cellphones in social gatherings it hurts the conversation more often than it helps.” Yeah, sometimes taking a thousand pictures to find the perfect one for posting on Facebook does tend to slow things down.

Speaking of social, some aren’t: Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of those surveyed said they used their phones to avoid interacting with others, with 6 percent saying they did this frequently.

Other tidbits from the report:

  • Most of those surveyed like to keep their cellphones on: 45 percent said they rarely turn their phone off, 31 percent said they never turn their phone off.
  • Seventy-nine percent say they’ve encountered loud or annoying cellphone behavior in public at least occasionally, with 30 percent saying they frequently have.
  • More than half of Americans (53 percent) say they’ve overheard intimate details about other people’s lives because of cellphone use.

The survey, conducted May 30, 2014 to June 30, 2014, had 3,217 respondents.


Photo: Marilu Rodriguez checks a news website on her smartphone before boarding a train home at the end of her work week in Chicago on March 13, 2015.  (M. Spencer Green/Associated Press)


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