Cell Phones Seen as More Important Than Land Lines

Americans have become more dependent on their cell phones than conventional phones.

For the first time, Americans say they would have more trouble giving up a cell phone than a traditional phone, the Pew Internet and American Life Project said in a report Wednesday.

Less than two years earlier, respondents still considered their landlines the most crucial technology.

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"The preferences have flipped," said John Horrigan, author of the new Pew report. "During that timeframe, people have gotten new devices that have more capabilities. People have more experience using cell phones for text messaging and other information tools. That has helped pushed cell phones as 'go to' devices."

[Fifty-one percent of respondents said it'd be hard to give up their cell phones, while 40 percent said the same thing about their land lines.]

The new survey found that 58 percent of cell phone users have sent or received text messages, an increase from 41 percent in April 2006.

On a typical day, 31 percent of cell phone owners use text messaging and 15 percent use the devices' camera features.

About 8 percent use the phone to play games and a similar percentage use it for e-mail.

According to Pew, the cell phone is the technological tool its users would have most difficulty giving up, followed by the Internet and television. Landline phones ranked fourth in the latest survey, just above e-mail.

In April 2006, the landline phone topped the list, followed by television, cell phones and the Internet.

Pew also found increased dependency on the BlackBerry and similar devices for wireless e-mail. Thirty-six percent of such users say they would have trouble giving that up, compared with 22 percent in 2006 and 6 percent in 2002.

The latest study of 2,054 adults was conducted Oct. 24 to Dec. 2 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

The random phone survey reached out to both landline and cell phone owners.