Uses for cellphones expanding, even as avoidance technique

If you’ve ever used a fake cellphone conversation to avoid real-life interactions, you’re not alone.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project says that 13 percent of adult mobile-phone owners in the U.S. have used the old “I’m on the phone” tactic. Thirty percent of those ages 18 to 29 said they had done that at least once in the previous 30 days. Just don’t forget to silence your ringer first.

In all, 83 percent of Americans reported owning some type of mobile phone. Of these, more than half said they have used their phones at least once to get information they needed right away. Mobile phones are also becoming tools for handling emergencies. Forty percent of owners said their phones helped in an emergency.

Phones also proved useful when staving off boredom — 42 percent said they used their phones for entertainment when they were bored. The study did not ask whether that meant playing “Angry Birds” or that old standby from the 1990s, “Snake.”

It’s not that phones are all fun and games, though. Twenty percent of cellphone owners said they experienced frustration because their phone was taking too long to download something, and 16 percent said they had problems reading something on their phone because the screen was too small. In a sign that we are getting increasingly dependent on our mobile gadgets, 42 percent of those aged 18 to 29 said they had trouble doing something because they didn’t have their phone with them.

The national telephone survey was conducted among 2,277 adults from April 26 to May 22 in English and Spanish. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. 

KingsIsle enters China market with its popular wizard game

Online game company KingsIsle Entertainment is bringing its popular “Wizard 101” game to China in a deal with Taomee Holdings Ltd.

“Wizard 101” is a multiplayer online game that immerses players in a world of magic and student wizards. That world might be familiar to fans of “Harry Potter,” though the two are not affiliated. KingsIsle, a privately held company based in Plano, Texas, says the game has 20 million registered players and its website had 13 million unique visitors in July.

The game is free to play, and KingsIsle makes money by charging for virtual items. The company previously announced that it is making “Wizard 101” available in Europe through a deal with German online game company Gameforge.

Financial terms of the deal with Taomee, an online entertainment platform for children in China, were not disclosed.

— From news service reports