Pew: Most Americans 'Just-In-Time' Cell Phone Users

by , May 7, 2012, 7:37 PM
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The spread of smartphones and mobile Web access has made it more common than ever for people to get information quickly or make plans while on the go. A new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds nearly two-thirds (62%) of U.S. adults, and 86% of smartphone owners, are turning to their devices for “just-in-time” help.

Among the activities they are pursuing on their phones in the past 30 days:

-Coordinate a meeting or get-together (41%)

-Solve an unexpected problem that they or someone else had encountered (35%)

-Decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant (30%)

-Find information to help settle an argument they were having (27%)

-Look up a score of a sporting event (23%)

-Get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere (20%)

-Get help in an emergency situation (19%)

Not surprisingly, young cell phone users are more likely to have performed most of these activities. In all, 88% of mobile users ages 18-29 had done one of the above activities in the past 30 days, compared with 76% of those 30-49, 57% of people 50-64, and 46% of those 65 and older. There are also other clear differences among other demographic segments:

-Men are more likely than women cell owners to have used their phones to look up information that settles an argument or disagreement. Nearly a third (31%) of men have done this, compared with 22% of women. That settles that.

-White cell phone owners are more likely than minorities to have used their phones to coordinate a gathering: 43% of whites have done this, compared with 33% of African-Americans and 34% of Hispanics.

-African-American mobile users are more likely than whites to have used their phones in the past month to get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information: 31% vs. 16%.

-People living in higher-income households are more likely than those who are less well-off to have used their cell phones for “just-in-time” purposes. The same goes for people with higher levels of education.

-In addition, rural cell phone users are less likely than suburban and urban users to have done some of the just-in-time searches in the past month.

The report also found 65% of smartphone owners have used their devices to get turn-by-turn directions while driving, with 15% doing so on a typical day. The Pew study results were based on survey conducted between March 15 and April 3, 2012 among 2,254 adults age 18 and older. It found that 88% of adults are cell phone owners and that 46% are smartphone owners.

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