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Survey: 52% of cell phone owners use phones while watching television


A new survey found that over half of American cell phone owners interact with their phones while watching television, marking a new trend in multi-screen interactivity.



A new survey by the Pew Research Center found that over half of adult cell phone owners use their cell phones while watching television, making them "connected viewers."

The survey, conducted in March-April 2012, involving a sample of 2,254 adults, found that 52 percent of cell phone owners used their mobiles for a variety of reasons while watching TV.

The largest number, 38 percent, used their phones to keep busy during commercial breaks, said the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project survey.

Around 23 percent used their phones to text someone who was watching the same program and 11 percent used their phones to post comments about the program and the same number checked what others were saying about the program.

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Around 22 percent used their cell phones to check if something said on TV was true, and 20 percent used their phones to visit a website that was mentioned on TV.

Aaron Smith, the co-author of the report, said, "Thanks to the widespread adoption of mobile technologies, what was once a passive, one-way information flow is often now a social contact sport," according to Agence France Presse.

"Viewers are using these devices to find others who share their passions, to sound off on programming that captures their attention, and to go 'beyond the broadcast' to inform themselves more fully about the things they have heard and experienced," he said, according to AFP.

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There is an age gap, as 81 percent mobile users between the ages of 18 and 24 reported using their cell phones while watching television. Those living in households earning more than $50,000 per year are more likely to interact on the phone and television, and the likelihood of interactivity goes up when they have some college experience, the survey found.

Perhaps predictably, smartphone users were found to be far more likely to interact while watching TV than basic phone users, said CNET. African American cell phone users were more likely to use their phones than their white counterparts, and urban residents were more likely to as compared to rural ones.