Mobile Phones Provide Security, Prompt Frustration: Survey

Mobile phones, including smartphones and their "dumber" handset brethren, provide both security and frustration to most users, according to a new survey of more than 2,200 Americans by Pew Internet.

While the fact that 57 percent of cell phone users surveyed said they had received some form of spam or malware via either an instant message, email or text message on their mobile phones, they're still not shying away from the devices' most compelling applications.

Texting by adults increased to 72 percent from 65 percent since the last survey in September, with 5 percent of respondents saying they send more than 200 text messages a day or more than 6,000 a month.

This texting addiction is particularly pronounced among users 12 to 17 years of age, who on average send and receive five times as many texts as adults.

And while smartphone sales continue to surge -- up from 50.5 million units in the second quarter of 2009 to 61.6 million in the second quarter of 2010 -- they still only represent about one in five handset in use today.

This would explain why the majority of those queried said making and receiving voice calls is still the main reason they use their handsets, with the typical user making and receiving about five calls a day.

Women, the survey found, make fewer calls with their cell phones (53 percent make or receive or make five or fewer calls a day, compared to 43 percent of men). Men and women defined as heavy users (making or taking 30 calls or more a day) are about equal at 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

From a peace-of-mind and functionality perspective, 91 percent of all respondents said mobile phones "make them feel safer" and 88 percent believe their mobile devices make it easier to arrange plans with their friends, family and coworkers, particularly when using either voice or text messages to coordinate meetings.

People living in self-described rural areas are less likely to own a cell phone (72 percent) than those in suburban (82 percent) or urban areas (85 percent). Those who have a broadband Internet connection at home are much more likely to own a mobile phone, although more than half (53 percent) of adults who do not use the Internet at home are using cell phones.

But when it comes to distractions, either their own or the interruption of conversations or meetings by others' mobile devices, people are universally annoyed to one degree or another, with 42 percent expressing irritation when a call or text interrupts them. This aversion to unwanted interruptions is higher among younger users (18 to 25 years old) because they're more inclined to use text messages to communicate rather than voice calls.

Finally, 86 percent of mobile phone users agree that it is rude when someone repeatedly interrupts a conversation or meeting to check their phone. Women, users with higher incomes and education, and white phone owners are all more likely to say it's rude to interrupt a face-to-face conversation to repeatedly check your phone, the survey found, while English-speaking Hispanics are more likely than Caucasian phone owners to report irritation when a message or text on their phone interrupts them.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


spam, mobile, smartphones, cell phones, texting