mobile internetNearly all Americans – 91% – own cell phones, and they’re using their mobile devices to do a lot more than make phone calls, according to results of a survey carried out by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. At 81%, sending and receiving text messages was among the most popular cell phone activities, followed by accessing the Internet (60%) and sending or receiving email (52%).

According to a press release, Pew project researchers also found that:

  • 50% download apps, up from 22% in 2009
  • 49% get directions, recommendations, or other location-based information
  • 48% listen to music
  • 21% participate in a video call or video chat, triple the number since May 2011
  • 8% “check in” or share their location

Younger adults ages 18-29, those with college educations, the more affluent, and urban and suburban residents are especially likely to use their cell phones in a variety of ways, according to the Pew Center research team.


Ninety-seven percent of younger U.S. adults and 94% of those 30-49 use their cell phones to send and receive text messages, according to survey results. That dropped to 75% among those 50-64 and 35% for those over 65.

Eighty-six percent and 85% of cell phone owners with at least a college degree or some college, respectively, use their cell phones to do more than make phone calls as compared to 77% of high school grads and 71% of those with no high school diploma, Pew project researchers found.

Breaking out responses according to household income, 88% of those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 or more annually engage in multiple activities with their cell phones. That compares to 80% for households with incomes between $30,000 and $49,999, and to 78% of those earning less than $30,000 per year.

Researchers also found that 82% of both urban and suburban residents use their cell phones for multiple purposes. That compares with 76% of rural residents.

Pew Internet & American Life researchers surveyed nearly 2,100 U.S. cell phone owners between April 17-May 19, 2013 in gathering data for the project’s Spring Tracking Survey.

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