Voice calling remains a firm hold as the number one use of cell phones for American adults, according to the latest research on cell phone usage and texting released last week by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Following the lead of teens, adults were texting more over a recent nine-month period than was the case in prior periods, though the difference in terms of how much the two age groups text remains substantial.
Seventy-two percent of adults reported having sent and received texts in May as compared to 65% in September 2009. In terms of text message volume, teens ages 12-17 send and receive 5x more text messages (median 50) than adults do (median 10), according to “Adults, Cell Phones and Texting.”
Only 5% of adult texters typically send and receive more than 200 text messages a day or more than 6,000 texts per month while the corresponding percentage is 15% for teens 12-17 and 18% for 18-24 adults. Just 3% of adults 25-29 do so, according to the report, which was authored by Pew Center senior research specialist Amanda Lenhart.
When it comes to cell phones for voice calling, the average adult user makes and receives some 5 voice calls a day. Women tend to make fewer cell phone calls than men — 53% said they make fewer than five calls per day as compared to 43% of men. Twenty-six percent of men said they are likely to make 6-10 cell phone calls per day as compared to 20% of women, though both are roughly equally likely to be among those likely to make or take 30 calls per day, 6% and 8% respectively.
Their cell phones give them a feeling of safety, according to 91% of respondents, and 65% said they have gone to sleep with their cell phones on within reach. Those who did so are also more likely to “feel positively” about their phones, the results indicate. And while 88% of respondents “appreciate the way the phone helps them make plans,” 86% think it’s rude when “someone repeatedly interrupts a face-to-face conversation to check their cell phone or take a call.” Forty-two percent “get irritated when a call or text interrupts them.”
Cell phone usage also tends to be greater among the African-American and Hispanic segments of the US population. English-speaking cell phone users in these groups are “more likely than Whites to initiate and receive large numbers of calls each day.” Twelve percent of African-American and 14% of Hispanic cell phone users make and receive more than 30 calls per day on average as opposed to just 4% for their White counterparts. They also tend to text more than Whites with a median of 10 texts per day.
Finally, and unsurprisingly, parents with children under 18 in the home are “keen users of the cell phone.” Parents are not only more likely to own a cell phone, they are more likely to make five or more calls per day than non-parents: 63% vs. 44%, respectively, though they do not text more. Parents are also more likely to appreciate the value of the phone when it comes to their ability to make plans, and the greater senses of security cell phones give them.