In the new "multiscreen" world, more than half of American adults with mobile phones use them while watching television, including to check the veracity of what they see on TV, a survey showed Tuesday.
The poll conducted by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found 38 percent of adult cell phone owners use their phone to keep themselves occupied during commercials and other breaks.
Some 23 percent used their phone to exchange text messages with someone else watching the same program in a different location and 22 percent used their device to check whether something they heard on television was true.
One of five phone owners in the survey said they used their phone to visit a website mentioned on television. Others wanted to see online comments about a program they were watching, or to post their own comments. Six percent used their phone to vote for a reality show contestant.
Taken together, 52 percent of cell owners are "connected viewers," meaning they used their phones while watching television for at least one of the activities, the Pew survey found.
"Thanks to the widespread adoption of mobile technologies, what was once a passive, one-way information flow is often now a social contact sport," said Aaron Smith, a Pew Internet researcher and co-author of the report.
"Viewers are using these devices to find others who share their passions, to sound off on programming that captures their attention, and to go 'beyond the broadcast' to inform themselves more fully about the things they have heard and experienced."
Among those in the 18-24 age group, 81 percent of cell owners are "connected viewers," the survey found, along with half of cell owners between the ages of 25 and 44 and nearly half of those in their mid-40s to mid-50s.
Among smartphone owners, 74 percent use multiple screens, compared with 27 percent of those with more basic phones.
The report is based on a survey conducted March 15-April 3 among 2,254 adults ages 18 and over.
Explore further: Millions without mobile phone service in Argentina