Does this scene sound familiar? You see Delores the Bore walking towards you. Fearing a 20-minute description of her latest scrapbooking project, you quickly pull out your phone and pretend to be on a call.
You’re not alone, says a new survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The research group asked 2277 Americans how they use their phones, and got some interesting results. Some 13 percent of respondents admitted they used their cell phone to avoid social encounters, while 42 percent turn to their devices as a cure for boredom.
While those types of cell phone use may seem shallow, many of us are using our devices for more vital purposes as well.
Four in ten respondents said they had found themselves in an emergency situation in which they used their cell phone to get help, while just over half used their phone to obtain immediate information over the past 30 days. That may be a crutch, though: 27 percent said they had had trouble completing a task in the past month because their phone wasn’t around.
Pew looked at other negatives of cell phone use, too. Over the previous 30 days, 20 percent of cell phone owners said they had become frustrated over slow data transfers, and 10 percent said they had trouble entering a lot of text on their devices.
Another 16 percent of cell phone owners reported having difficulty reading something on their cell phone because the text was too small. Not surprisingly, this complaint came most frequently from respondents aged 50 to 64.
A significant number of cell phone users, especially young ones, feel the need to just get away from the technology for awhile. 29 percent said they have turned their phones off in the past month to disconnect, with the highest percentage coming among those aged 18 to 29.
I’d venture to guess this occurred because younger phone users are the most likely to be more connected, and thus more likely to need to a break. In an ever more connected world, maybe it is good to disconnect once in awhile?