Pew: TV, Landline Declining in ‘Necessity’

The television set and the landline telephone are suffering from a sharp decline in public perception that they are necessities of life, according to a new nationwide survey report from the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project.

Just 42% of Americans say they consider the television set to be a necessity, a sharp decrease from the 52% recorded one year ago, and the 64% in 2006.

The drop-off has been less severe for the landline telephone. Some 62% of Americans say it’s a necessity of life, down from 68% last year. But there’s a related trend that’s more perilous for the landline. Fully 47% say that the cell phone is a necessity of life.

And, as we look toward the future, fewer than half (46%) of 18- to 29-year-old survey respondents consider the landline phone a necessity of life. Fewer than three-in-ten (29%) say the same about the television set.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data, just 74% of U.S. households now have a landline phone. This is down from a peak of 97% in 2001.

During this same time period, use of cell phones has skyrocketed. In a related survey report released this past week, the Pew Internet & American Life Project said that 82% of adults now use cell phones, up from 53% in 2000. There are now more cell phones in the U.S. than landline phones.

The average adult cell phone owner continues to place and receive voice calls, approximately five per day, but Pew notes that texting is becoming an increasingly popular communication medium.

Texting by adults has increased during the past nine months from 65% of adults sending and receiving texts in September 2009, to 72% texting in May 2010. Adults text typically send and receive a median of 10 texts a day.

It should come as no surprise to anyone with a teenager that today’s young adults are leading the SMS race. In fact, teens ages 12-17 send and receive, on average, five times more texts per day than adult texters, sending and receiving a median of 50 texts per day.

For more, see this Pew report on The Fading Glory of Television and the Telephone and this report on Cell Phones and American Adults.

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