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


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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