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Cellphones stress you out in 4 ways, says study

Frustrated man holding mobile phone at bar
Cellphones are almost perfect — except for dropped calls, marketing annoyances, text spam and slow connections to the Internet.Allen Simon / Getty Images

Newsflash: You wouldn't know what to do without your cellphone, but it's still a P in the B. As unsurprising as that finding may be, a study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project illuminates the four key points of stress that come from human/phone interaction.

And they are ... (drum roll please) ...

Dropped calls! 72 percent of users experience them at least occasionally, says Pew, and 32 percent of cell owners say they get them a few times a week or more.

As a survivor of some pretty shabby service from the carrier whose name starts with an "A," I am gonna make my own assumptions about who that 32 percent use for service (and what shiny little phone, whose name starts with an "i," they may be carrying.)

Sales and marketing intrusions! 68 percent of cell owners complain of calls, and a quarter of cell owners say they get them at least weekly. 

It's official. The decade of peace and quiet that came from the fact that cellphone numbers are inherently unlisted is over. How? Because when you got rid of your landline, and started writing down your cell number on every random form, you surrendered its stealth and anonymity.

Text spam! About the same number of people suffering from verbal S&M are also getting it via text messages, probably for the same basic reasons.

And the final giant problem facing today's phone owners?

Slow connections to the Internet! Of the 55 percent of cellphone users who do stuff on the Web, or use email and apps, over three quarters of them occasionally find slow download speed to be a pain.

Regarding the slow speed, I have two thoughts: First, do these people turn on Wi-Fi when at home or work? That tends to help a lot. And second, the rollout of 4G on the iPhone may make this pain point subside a bit. 4G is a lot faster, though the burden is on the relationship between hardware maker and carrier: Networks are only good if your phone can connect to them — and stay connected.

"The big change that mobile connectivity has brought to users is the instant availability of people and data," wrote Jan Lauren Boyles, a Pew Internet Project researcher who authored this report.

"As mobile owners become fond of just-in-time access to others and as their expectations about getting real-time information rise, they depend on the cellphone's technical reliability. Any problems that snag, stall or stop users from connecting to the material and people they seek is at least a hassle to them and sometimes is even more disturbing than that in this networked world."

And there you have it. The more necessary, the more evil. Am I right?

Wilson Rothman is the Technology & Science editor at NBC News Digital. Catch up with him on Twitter at @wjrothman, and join our conversation on Facebook.