Half of adult cell phone owners say they use their phones to supplement their TV viewing experience, according to new findings from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
The study, released July 17, found that 52 percent of all adult cell owners are "connected viewers," that is viewers who used their phones for activities like Web searches, engage with the shows they are watching or interact with other watching the same show in the 30 days preceding the April 2012 survey.
Pew found 38 percent cell phone owners use their phones during commercials and breaks to stay busy. Younger adults tended to use their cell phones for a distraction during commercials and other program breaks at a higher rate. The research found 73 percent of those aged 18 to 24 used the cell phone as a distraction; 56 percent of 25-to-34-year olds did so; 45 percent of respondents 35 to 44 years of age did; followed by 27 percent of 45 to 54 year olds; 16 percent of 55 to 64 year olds; and 9 percent of those 65 years of age and older.
The researchers also found on the whole 22 percent used the phone to check on the veracity of something presented during the show being watched, while 6 percent used the phone to interact with the show they were watching by casting a vote for a reality show contestant.
The researchers sought further information from the 57 percent of respondents who said they use their cell phone to download apps, use the Internet or check e-mail on their phones. Of this group, 35 percent visited a website mentioned on TV, 20 percent used their phones to find out what others were saying about the show being watched and 19 percent posted their own thoughts about the program. Of all cell phone users, these percentages work out to be 20 percent, 11 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
The research also uncovered a difference between cell phone users and smart phone users. A total of 74 percent of smart phone owners said they used their device while watching TV in the 30 days prior to the study, compared to 27 percent of non-smart phone owners.
For the study, Pew conducted telephone interviews from March 15 to April 3, 2012, of 2254 adults, age 18 and older.