The Connected Viewer: More Than 50% Of Cellphone Owners Now Use Their Phones While Watching TV

According to the latest data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than half of the adult cellphone owners in the U.S. now use their phones while watching TV. The main reason isn’t to talk on Twitter about a program they are watching, though. Instead, the majority of cell owners (38%) used their phones to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks. Quite a few of these “connected viewers” also use their phones to fact check something they heard on TV (22%) and marketers will be happy to hear that 35% of smartphone owners use their phones to visit sites that were mentioned on TV.

Smartphone owners, unsurprisingly, are far more likely than owners of feature phones to use their phones while watching TV. While 58% of smartphone users said they use their phones to have something to do during commercials or breaks, for example, only 17% of other cell owners said so.

As for the demographics of these “connected viewers,” chances are you can already guess what these look like: younger viewers are far more likely to use their phones while watching television than older users (73% of those 18-24 do so vs. 9% of those 65 and older). The same goes for those living in households with incomes over $50,000. Education doesn’t seem to make a huge difference, though the report notes that 42% of those with at least some college experience use their phones for “distracted viewing,” while only 34% of those who didn’t attend college do so.

The Pew study did not find many meaningful differences between how men and women used their phones while watching TV, with the exception of texting (21% of men said they did so vs. 25% of women), posting online comments about a show (9% vs. 13%) and voting for reality show contestants (4% vs. 8%).

There are some social aspects to how people use their phones while watching TV, too. About a quarter of the respondents said they texted somebody who was watching the same program in the last 30 days, for example, and 11% of cell owners said they posted comments about a program online.

Image credit: Flickr user John Atherton.