DES MOINES, IA — They may be annoyed by listening to others talking on their cell phones; nevertheless, Iowans have become one with their own cell phones, using them everywhere including public restrooms. As well, Iowans who live outside Des Moines are more likely than Des Moines residents to view cell phones as a necessity. And, while Iowa men and women alike are interested in the mobility their cell phone affords, women in the Hawkeye state place a higher priority on safety and security than do men, and they view their cell phones as providing it.
That's what interviews with 400 Iowa cell phone users revealed in a survey designed to measure knowledge, attitudes and behavior of cell phone users throughout the state. A whopping 82.1 percent of survey participants say they carry their cell phones with them most of the time. Meanwhile, nearly half (43.1%) indicate they often are annoyed by having to listen to other people's cell phone calls. And most have observed cell phones being used in various public locations including restrooms (67.6%), restaurants (95.6%), cars (96.7%) and movie theaters (32.4%).
The survey-conducted for Verizon Wireless by Burton, Gordon and Associates-was comprised of a representative sample of all cell phone service providers in Iowa. Burton, Gordon, an international survey firm specializing in opinion research in the Midwest, completed interviews with cell phone users randomly selected throughout the state. The sampling error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
"This survey confirms what we suspected about cell phone usage here," said Tim Wolfe, district manager for Verizon Wireless in Iowa. "And that is, cell phones have become an integral part of Iowans' lives."
But comparisons between Des Moines residents and those outside the city, between men and women, and between Iowans of various ages, reveal distinct differences. For example, 48 percent of cell phone users outside the Des Moines area believe their cell phones are a necessity compared with 37.5 percent of Des Moines residents. And, 62.5 percent of Des Moines residents say they view their phones as a convenience compared with 52 percent of those outside Des Moines. Households outside Des Moines (24.6%) also are more likely to have at least three cell phones in comparison to Des Moines residents (16%).
Attitudes about cell phone usage varied by age, with 58 percent of Iowans age 60 and older reporting that they are often annoyed by having to listen to others calls, compared with only 38.8 percent of those ages 18 to 34.
Safety was a hot topic for women, who are more concerned about the role cell phones play in their security than are men-27.6 percent compared with 12.6 percent respectively. Meanwhile, men rate convenience and mobility higher than women-72 percent compared with 54.5 percent.
When it comes to cell phone knowledge, a majority of Iowans are "No Frills Seekers." They prefer a basic, dependable phone (85.2%) as opposed to one with lots of bells and whistles. Although 58.7 percent understand only the basic functions of their cell phones, such as placing and receiving calls, nearly three-fourths (71.9%) are satisfied with that knowledge.
Knowledge drops off sharply when it comes to more advanced cell phone functions. Only 23.7 percent of Iowans surveyed say they understand very well how to send a text message. Only 7.2 percent say they are very familiar with how to check email and search the Internet using a cell phone.
It may be no surprise that younger age groups are more tech-savvy than their older counterparts. More than 60 percent (62.1%) of cell phone users ages 18 to 34 know how to use most of the functions of their cell phones compared with 51 percent of cell phone users ages 35 to 44. The survey showed only 18.5 percent of those 60 and older know how to use most of their cell phone functions.
A majority of Iowans fit the "Love 'Em, Can't Leave 'Em" attitude profile. What they like most about their phone is that it provides them with convenience and mobility (58.9%), and they carry their cell phones with them most of them time (82.1%).
"A cell phone has become almost as important an accessory for Iowans as a wallet or a purse," said Wolfe. "You wouldn't leave home without it and you might even return to get your cell phone if you forgot it."
Iowans expressed a mixed reaction to the propriety of talking on cell phones in various places. For example, most say they have heard cell phone conversations in restaurants (95.6%) but only 53.2 percent feel a restaurant is an appropriate place for such a conversation. Likewise, 96.7 percent say they have seen cell phones being used by drivers but only 38.9 percent think it is appropriate. On the other hand, two thirds of those surveyed (67.6 percent) say they have witnessed cell phone conversations in a public restroom and two-thirds (65.8 percent) feel the public restroom is an appropriate place for talking on a phone.
The survey uncovered a variety of behavioral patterns when it comes to cell phone usage. For example, nearly half of Iowans surveyed (48.1%) have asked someone younger than themselves to help them use their cell phone. At least 6.7 percent of cell phone users admit to being "Cell Phonies"-having faked talking on the phone to avoid a person or for some other motive.
"This survey substantiates the important role that cell phones play in Iowans' lives," said Julie Stephenson, business sales manager for Verizon Wireless in Iowa. "As cell phone users adapt to ever-changing technology, they will come to rely on their cell phones as much for efficiency as mobility. We hope this survey-which we believe is reflective of attitudes throughout the Midwest-will help Iowans better understand how cell phones can improve the quality of their lives today and into the future."
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, N.J., Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at http://www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.