Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project did a survey on how American's interact with their cellphones in their day-to-day life. Pew says that nearly 83% of the U.S. population owns cellphones, 35% of which are smartphones (as of May 2011) and that the most popular ways to use the device are for text messaging and taking pictures. The study shows how cellphone usage (especially smartphones) is changing the dynamic of how people interact with the world around them. Think back five or 10 years - how has the way you interact with media, knowledge and people changed because of the cellphone in your pocket?

The Pew study shows that 95% of people 18-29 years old send or receive text messages, 91% take a picture, 64% access the Internet and 58% play music on their cellphones. Those numbers drop, though not precipitously, for the 30-49 demographic. The real drop comes in the 50+ range, where only 58% of people send text messages and 26% access the Internet. Pew said that people with college degrees are more likely to engage in every non-voice application the survey measured. Non-white Latinos and African-Americans have very high usage rates compared to white cellphone owners.

It is always interesting to see the information Pew uncovers with their surveys. For instance, 51% of cellphone owners (across age demographics) used their devices to "get information they needed right away." About 40% of cellphone users were in an emergency situation where their cellphone was of great assistance while 27% experienced a situation in which they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phone on hand.

We are curious as to the experience of our readers with some of the Pew categories. We imagine that the average ReadWriteWeb reader is tech-savvy and most would have partaken in most of the activities the Pew survey studied. We would also think that more than 35% of our readership owns smartphones. Yet, sometimes it is easy to forget that cellphone usage is still a relatively new phenomenon in human culture and that the populace as a whole is just now starting to reach an inflection point where cell usage is distinctly changing the people interact with their lives.

Pew broke down the survey from all cellphone owners to just smartphone owners. Of smartphone owners, 79% say that they used their phones to quickly access information they needed and 72% used the device to entertain themselves while bored. Smartphone owners are somewhat frustrated with slow download speeds (36%) though only 22% said that they have had trouble reading something on the phone (presumably because of screen size).

Of those activities smartphone owners partake, it is interesting to see how they break down by age demographic.

The Pew survey results are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to May 22, 2011 of 2,277 adults aged 18 years or older. The survey was of English and Spanish speaking people over land line (1,522) and cellular (755) devices. The survey can say with 95% confidence that the sampling error is plus or minus 2.4%.