Half of US smartphones used while watching TV

Half of all adult mobile phone owners in the US now incorporate their mobile devices into their television watching experiences, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre’s Internet & American Life Project.

These “connected viewers” used their phones for a wide range of activities:
– 38 per cent of cell owners used their phone to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks in something they were watching
– 23 per cent used their phone to exchange text messages with someone else who was watching the same programme in a different location
– 22 per cent used their phone to check whether something they heard on television was true or not
– 20 per cent used their phone to visit a website that was mentioned on television
– 11 per cent used their phone to see what other people were saying online about a programme they were watching, and 11 per cent posted their own comments online about a programme they were watching using their mobile phone
– 6 per cent used their phone to vote for a reality show contestant

Taken together, 52 per cent of all mobile owners are “connected viewers”—meaning they use their phones while watching television for at least one of these reasons.

“These findings unify two trends occurring across modern media platforms: the rise of audience engagement and the rise of portable connectivity,” said Jan Lauren Boyles, a research intern at Pew Internet and a co-author of the report. “Television audiences are actively primed to participate, and these connected viewers are using mobile devices to debate, learn, and engage with programming and each other.”

“Thanks to the widespread adoption of mobile technologies, what was once a passive, one-way information flow is often now a social contact sport,” said Aaron Smith, a Pew Internet researcher and co-author of the report. “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.”

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