Study: Cell phone uses increasing; what about for making calls?
New Pew survey finds that people increasingly use their cell phones for all sorts of things, but what about actually making phone calls?
The iPhone is the single greatest device to ever come into my life. I use it all day long, and I’d use all night too if my body didn’t demand a few hours of sleep. Whether it’s taking pictures, checking Facebook, listening to podcasts or looking up the amount of carbohydrates in food I use it for more and more things, seemingly, every day. All I need now is one of those cases that have a bottle opener built in and I can die happy.
A new Pew study of cell phone use released this week finds that, not surprisingly, this is the case for just about everybody. People are using their cell and smartphones for more and more things, other than just making calls. As the trends over time show, use of cell phones for a whole variety of activities, from texting to checking bank balances, continues to grow over time. Taking pictures continues to be the number one non-calling activity, with 82% of cell phone owners reporting that they’ve done it. More than half (56%) of cell phone users now use their phones to access the internet, more than double the number that did so just three years ago.
The study also broke down use by demographics. They found that men and women were roughly equal in the number and type of non-call activities for which they used their phones. However, they also found that younger adults, more educated people, and those with higher incomes were more likely to use their cell phones for several different types of activities.
Interesting findings, for sure. However, I’d be more interested in finding out how often people actually used their cell phones for, you know, making a phone call. I know, even for an old fart like me, it’s one of the things I use my phone for the least. With all of the other activities available on your cell phone, not to mention all of the non-cellular call ways of communicating with people (text, email, FaceTime), are people making fewer phone calls with their cell phones?
This Pew study wasn’t designed to examine the rate of usage for the various activities they asked about. They simply asked respondents whether they ever use their cell phone for taking pictures, texting, checking email, etc. They didn’t ask whether people actually used their phones to make calls since, presumably, they all do at some point. But how often do they, is what I’d like to know, and how is that changing over time?
While I wait for such a study to be done (or be brought to my attention), I did my own non-scientific study of cell phone usage in my house. My wife and I each have iPhones and our 13 year-old has a non-smart cell phone. Looking at the usage numbers from my provider for the last month I find that:
- I made/received 9 phone calls and sent/received 42 texts
- My wife made/received 33 phone calls and sent/received 128 texts
- Our daughter made/received 110 phone calls and sent/received 797 (!) texts
What to take from this small sample? Couple of things:
- Women make more phone calls on their cell phones than men
- While texting is more popular than making phone calls across the board, the ratio is much greater for teenagers than 40-somethings (7x vs 4x)
- If it weren’t for unlimited texting plans, we’d be broke
Hopefully, Pew is already working on a new study that will expand on my findings.
What are your favorite (or most frequent) activities on your cell phone? Do you find yourself making fewer calls as time goes by? Please share.