Pew: 52% of cell phone owners are "connected viewers"

Faith Merino · July 17, 2012 · Short URL:

Study finds half of all adult mobile users play with their phone while watching TV

Half the time I watch TV, I’m also playing around on my iPhone and going online to check my bank account, play around on Facebook and Twitter, or read a blog.  At some point, I always get an image in my mind’s eye of myself slouching on the couch staring at my phone while the TV is on a few feet away, and the refrain “Oh, what a brave new world” loops through my head.

But I’m not the only one!  A report released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that half of all adult cell phone owners use their cell phone in some capacity while watching TV. 

Pew researchers are calling them “connected viewers”—or people who watch TV and use their cell phone at the same time.  Unsurprisingly, teens and young adults lead the fray, with 81% of those age 18-25 engaging in multi-screen viewing.  Those living in households earning $50K or more a year are also more likely to be connected viewers—as are those living in urban areas and those with higher levels of education.

What they’re doing on their phones is even more interesting.  Like me, 38% of all adult cell phone owners are actually playing with their phones to keep themselves occupied during commercial breaks.  When will advertisers find a way to stop making commercials feel like penance?

You know what never gets old?  Watching “Jeopardy” and not getting the answer right, so you go on your phone to double-check the answer because there’s no way you got that wrong.  Some 22% of cell phone owners owned up to doing something of that nature—specifically, using their phone to see whether something mentioned on TV was true or not. 

Another 20% said they’ve visited a website that was mentioned on TV.  Some 11% said they’ve used their phone to see what other people were saying about a TV program they were watching, while another 11% said they’ve used their phone to post comments online about a show they were watching (I do this routinely with “The Walking Dead.”  I totally spoiled the Season Two finale for all of my Facebook friends). 

You might be wondering about reality shows like American Idol that actually ask viewers to use their phone to vote for a contestant.  Oddly enough, only 6% of respondents said they’ve used their phone to do that.

Today’s report follows a report released Monday by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which looks at YouTube as the new go-to source for breaking news.


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