Americans are getting attached to their smartphones.
The Pew Research Center released a new study on Wednesday laying out how Americans use and feel about their phones. Nearly half of all U.S. smartphone users claimed they couldn't live without their phones. And they declared overwhelmingly that they found their phones far more helpful than annoying, distracting or limiting.
When people were asked "Which of the following statements most closely matches how you feel about your cell phone, even if neither one is exactly right?" 54 percent said it was "not always needed," while 46 percent said they "couldn't live without" it. Despite this split in attitudes, people tend to say that their smartphones improve their lives. Check out Pew's chart below:
The data come from a survey of 3,181 Americans, mostly online and some by mail, of which 2,188 respondents were smartphone owners.
According to Pew, 70 percent of Americans associate their smartphones with the word "freedom" more than "leash." Seventy-two percent think their smartphone is "connecting" rather than "distracting," and 93 percent think it's "helpful" rather than "annoying."
According to a separate phone survey of 2,002 U.S. adults, 64 percent of Americans now own smartphones, up from 58 percent in early 2014, according to this study.
Though people clearly see their smartphone's benefits more than its drawbacks, it's important to remember that this study is self-reported. It's the only way to get answers to questions like this, but people will often answer in ways that they feel make them look good or rationalize their actions. For example, if someone spends hours a day on their smartphone, they are more likely to say that their smartphone makes them happy in order to explain their behavior. So take this information with a grain of salt.
There are obviously a lot of ways in which smartphones do negatively impact our lives, whether we want to admit it or not. Using your smartphone at night can hurt your sleep and productivity, work-related smartphone use increases stress, and high levels of smartphone use makes your downtime less enjoyable.