Mobile phone owners are ambivalent about their devices. Most people say that “net net,” mobile phones have been helpful, increased productivity, saved time and made them more connected to others. However there are also social costs and a dark side to the widespread adoption of mobile devices and smart devices in particular.
That’s according to survey data released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
The biggest complaints about mobile phones have to do with being distracted and unable to focus on a single task, the increased challenge of separating from work and the inability to focus fully on other people. The complaints vary somewhat by age category.
Pew’s data reflect that 85 percent of American adults own mobile phones and 53 percent of mobile subscribers have smartphones. However Pew explored the rationales of the 15 percent who decline to get a mobile phone at all. The top three reasons are: no need, cost and not interested.
Among US mobile phone owners who don’t have a smartphone (roughly 45-49 percent) cost and lack of need are the main reasons cited for not upgrading. Younger users are held back by the perceived expense, while older users either don’t see a need for a smartphone or regard smartphones as too complicated to use.
Pew identified 17 percent of its survey audience as “cell mostly” internet users. That is, people “who do most of their online browsing within the context of their mobile phone.” This group has both the most ambivalent relationship to mobile phone ownership. I assume the majority of this group are smartphone power users.
There are many more findings in the full study, which you can access here.
Below is a high-level video summary of the study’s findings.