Dick Uliano, wtop.com
Washington - Cellphones have become an essential tool in our lives -- 85 percent of American adults now own cellphones -- but, ironically, what we like most about them is also what we like least.
The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project offers new findings underscoring the high value Americans place on their cellphones but also the disadvantages Americans see in always being connected.
Sixty-seven percent of cell owners say they find themselves checking their phones for messages, alerts or calls even when the phone isn't ringing or vibrating.
Cellphone user Pia Bernardini says she tries really hard not to, but constantly checks her cellphone because "maybe it didn't buzz and there's really something there waiting for me, even though I know there's not," she says.
The Pew study finds that 44 percent of cell owners have slept with a phone next to their beds to make sure they didn't miss any calls, text messages or other updates during the night.
Pia is one of them.
"I wake up in the morning and I look it," she says. She concedes she's at least "partially addicted" to her cellphone.
Keeping friends and family connected, cellphones play such a central role in people's lives. Pew finds that 29 percent of cell owners say it's "something they can't imagine living without."
Erica Sejas says she can't live without her phone.
"I think I would just feel really left out of the world, left out of everything," she says.
While Americans keep cellphones close by, constantly checking them, almost a quarter of those surveyed, 24 percent, say that the worst thing about owning a cellphone is that they are constantly available and can be reached at any time.
Pew's study is entitled "The Best (and Worst) of Mobile Connectivity." It's based on a national telephone survey of 2,254 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percent.
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