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More than one quarter (27 per cent) of cellphone users said they had experienced a situation where they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phone at hand, showing just how dependent on the devices people have become. (Reuters)

Americans are increasingly relying on their cellphones for far more than voice calls, but people often find mobile internet services frustrating to use, a recent survey reports.

A study of 1,194 adult cellphone owners by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center, released Monday, found that in addition to using cellphones for communication:

  • 51 per cent of cellphone owners used their phone to get information they needed right away.
  • 42 per cent used their cellphone for entertainment when they were bored.
  • 13 per cent pretended to use their phone to avoid interacting with people around them.

More than one quarter (27 per cent) of cellphone users said they had experienced a situation where they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phone at hand, and only  29 per cent ever turned off their phone for a period of time to get a break from using it, showing just how dependent on mobile devices people have become.

"For many Americans, cellphones have become an essential tool and playtime toy," said Aaron Smith, author of the report, in a statement. Smith is a senior research specialist at the Pew Center's Internet & American Life Project.

The study found that In the past year, there has been a large increase in the activities that people use their phone for:

  • 54 per cent have used their cellphone to send a photo or video, a huge jump from 36 per cent in May 2010.
  • 22 per cent have used their cellphone to post a photo or video online, up from 15 per cent a year earlier.
  • 44 per cent have used their cellphone to access the internet, up from 38 per cent in May 2010.
  • 26 per cent have used their cellphone to watch a video, up from 20 per cent.
  • 38 per cent have used their cellphone to send email, up from 34 per cent.

However, the survey results suggested that cellphones were not always equipped to meet users' growing needs, expectations, and range of uses:

  • 20 per cent of cellphone users said they had experienced frustration because their phone was taking too long to download something.
  • 16 per cent had trouble reading something on their phone because the screen size was too small.
  • 10 per cent said they had trouble entering a lot of text on their phone.

Overall, 83 per cent of American adults own a cellphone, including 94 per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 29. About 35 per cent of Americans have a smartphone.

The study involved 1,522 interviews done on landline phones and 755 by cellphone in English and Spanish between April 26 and May 22. The overall results are considered accurate within plus or minus two percentage points, while results related to cellphone owners only are accurate within plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.