Pew Study Finds Smartphones Entertain, Distract and Enrage Young People

Ollie Millington/Redferns
The crowd watch as Tinie Tempah performs on stage during day 1 of The Ultrasound Music Festival at Tamworth Castle on September 3, 2011 in Tamworth, United Kingdom.

Confirmed: That Millennial on their phone is pretending not to hear you. But they like music!

The Pew Research Center has released a study on smartphone use in the U.S., and the results are... all over the place, from sad to uplifting, surprising to expected. A majority -- 64 percent -- of Americans own a smartphone now, almost double from 35 percent in 2011. Not shockingly, ownership is highest among young adults and those with higher education levels and incomes.

Americans' feelings on their communicator devices are generally positive, most of the time; 77 percent said it made them feel happy, 36 percent responded their device made them frustrated (we've all been there).

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A fifth of respondents said that their smartphone was their primary means of connecting to the web, with 10 percent not having broadband at home. That situation was three times more prevalent among African Americans and Latinos than white respondents.

The study's most interesting results came from its "experience sampling," where 1,035 people answered 10 or more surveys over the course of a week on the details of their smartphone use. Food for thought when you think about what you did before you could settle that lunchtime argument with a friend over some mildly interesting piece of history: Americans were split on whether they truly needed their smartphones, with 54 percent saying it wasn't always necessary and 46 percent saying they couldn't live without it.

On media consumption, Pew found that 41 percent of people on average listened to music or podcasts on their phone once a week. The numbers become more promising the younger the user is; 64 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds rocked out, while only 21 percent of those 50 years or older saying they listened to music or podcasts.

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The study wasn't a psychological investigation, but its results may suggest that youngsters are getting a little scrambled -- or maybe some things just never change. 73 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds said their phones made them feel distracted, and were also three times as likely as their elders to say their phones made them angry during the week-long study. They were also "significantly more likely than those in other age groups to indicate that they experienced being happy or grateful as a result of their phone." Are we there yet?

A final note: we're on to you. "47 percent of young smartphone owners used their phone to avoid interacting with the people around them at least once during the study period, roughly three times the proportion of older smartphone owners who did so."