After occupying centre stage in the American household for much of the 20th century, the television set and the landline telephone are suffering from a sharp decline in public perception that they are necessities of life. Just 42% of Americans say they consider the television set to be a necessity, according to a new nationwide survey from the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project. Last year, this figure was 52%. In 2006, it was 64%.
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% of the public say that the cell phone is a necessity of life.
In the case of the landline phone, a rising thumbs-down verdict comes not just from the survey but also from the marketplace. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data, just 74% of US households now have a landline phone, this is down from a peak of 97% in 2001. During the same time period, use of cell phones has skyrocketed. Fully 82% of adults now use cell phones, up from 53% in 2000. There are now more cell phones in the US than landline phones. And—as if to add insult to injury—today’s young adults are spending less time talking on their cell phones and more time texting
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