Half of Americans Sleep with Cellphone

October 2, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Asia-Pacific | Email | Europe & Middle East | Mobile Phone | Telecom

More than four in 10 Americans say they “can’t live” without their mobile phone and and nearly half sleep with it nearby, according to a global mobile-phone survey from Synovate, which found that cellphones are increasingly becoming consumers’ “remote controls for life.”?

The research, which was undertaken among more than 8,000 cellphone owners in 11 global markets to learn more about how people are using their mobile devices and how they feel about them, also found that Americans are heavy users of phone cameras and are among the least likely to lie in text messages.

Highlights of additional survey findings are listed below.

People Depend on Cellphones

Three-fourths of survey respondents – including 82% of Americans – never leave home without their phone, and 36% of people across the world (42% of Americans) go as far as to say, rather melodramatically, they ‘cannot live without’ it.

The study also found that overall, 23% of respondents across 11 markets own more than two mobile phones. Americans are among the most likely to own at least two at 33%, along with the French (34%). Brits and Americans are the most likely to own a smartphone, at 21% and 20%, respectively.

Most Popular Cellphone Features

In an increasingly mobile-literate world, only about a third of US respondents said they did not know how to use most of the features on their phones, Synovate said.? Putting aside the almost ubiquitous calling and text-messaging functions, the three features most used on a regular basis are the alarm clock, the camera and games:


Cameras also are very important to mobile phone owners as well. An overall 62% worldwide use the camera regularly, led by 76% in the UK, 71% in France, and 68% in the US. This is also the feature that Americans most want to see improved in their phones (31%).

Top 3G Functions

The survey also revealed that that the US and the UK lead the way in mobile functions that require upgraded, or 3G access. The US leads the world in the use of email, while the UK leads in the use of internet browsing and social networking.

Figures for the US vs. the rest of the world:


Hookups, Breakups via Text

As text messaging has become as important as voice calling, the study found that it has changed the way people manage their relationships. Some 31% of people across all the markets surveyed have lied about their whereabouts via text, one in five has set up a first date and 12% have broken up with someone.

Synovate suggests that, in some cultures, this ‘hiding’ behind the cellphone enables users? to be bolder, or more timid, than they may be in person.

Some ways respondents have used texting to enhance their relationships:

  • One third of all respondents globally have flirted with their partners by text, including 36% of Americans.
  • 15% have flirted with someone other than their partner, led by the Brits (26%) and Russians (24%). Fewer (16%) of Americans say they have done this.
  • 20% of respondents worldwide have set up a first date via text, including 9% of Americans.

Some ways respondents have used texting to deliver potentially bad news:

  • 12% have broken up with someone via text, led by 23% of Filipinos. Just 4% of Americans have done this.
  • Overall, 8% of respondents have been dumped via text, led by 20% of Malaysians, while only 5% of Americans have been dumped via text.
  • Led by 49% of Filipinos, 35% of global respondents have hidden behind text to say no or send a difficult message. Least likely to hide behind text are Canadians (79% say they haven’t done this) and Americans (71%).
  • 31% agreed they have lied about why they were running late or where they are, led by 57% of Filipinos. Least likely to lie via text are the Dutch (84% say they haven’t) and Americans (79%).

A US study conducted last year by AT&T Wireless similarly found that texting plays a significant role in romance.

In an explanation of why Synovate conducts extensive studies about mobile use and behavior, the firm’s global head of media, Steve Garton, noted that cellphones have become so ubiquitous that by last year, more human beings owned one than did not.

“This sheer volume, coupled with enormous marketing potential that is just starting to be realised, means that marketers need to understand as much as possible about how people use their phones, how they feel about them – and what they want more of,” Garton said.? “One very important point about the marketing potential of the phone is that people tend to classify the mobile phone differently to mainstream media… Most people do not think of phones as a media platform at all.”

?About the survey: The Synovate In:fact survey on mobile phones was conducted in June 2009 across 11 markets and with more than 8,000 urban mobile phone owners, including 504 in the US. The other markets surveyed were Canada, Denmark, France, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, and the UK. The survey was conducted online in several markets, meaning the respondents are likely to be more tech-savvy than the general population.

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