From the moment we get up in the morning until the final minutes of every day, the first and last thing we do every day is check our mobile phones. Social media, personal calendars and agendas, messaging, e-mail, and news feeds all stream continuously to our phones twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
How attached have we become to our mobile connection?
Recent studies have the goods on how pervasive smartphone use has become in our lives. Let’s take a look at a day in the life of the average mobile phone to better understand this uniquely 21st century sociocultural phenomenon that is mobile phone usage.
We will start by looking at how people use their phones at the start of an average weekday. According to smartphone users surveyed in a recent study, most respondents stated that they check their phone within five minutes of waking up.
However, in younger demographic groups, like the 18-24 age range, 26% of respondents stated that they check their phone immediately upon waking. This may be due to the fact that many people use the alarm clock on their mobile phone as their primary alarm clock every day, however, app data from the study suggest that these immediate users also checked social media and text messages right away as well.
As the morning draws towards the start of most users nine-to-five, usage continues as they send and receive text messages and social media direct messages, a trend which has steadily overtaken and surpassed checking and sending e-mail in the past two years.
Using Our Phones on the Way to Work
On the way to work, whether they commute by car or mass transit, many users stream music to their earbuds or car stereo to make their trip to work a more pleasant and entertaining experience. Others listen to podcasts or audiobooks to pass the time.
The trend that is fastest growing among phone users though is implementing tap-and-pay apps to purchase goods and services as well, such as their morning coffee or morning meals. Many users are also using vendor made apps on their smartphones to order ahead and save time waiting in line at their favorite breakfast venues and coffee shops. Add to those usage numbers the phone use of people waiting in line to order who are killing time on their phones with games, social media, or messaging, and the number of phone checks continues to steadily rise.
Once at work, users check their phone less often as a matter of productivity; however, usage rises significantly about two hours later as people take short breaks. Lunch time brings the next big spike in usage, especially when many eateries and restaurants allow customers to order and pickup using smartphone apps. Activity lulls a bit in the afternoon, but picks up again at the end of the work day as people make evening plans, particularly among the 18-24 demographic. Usage remains steady into the evening as smartphone users continue to check and use phones while sitting down to eat with friends and family.
Finally, as the day draws to a close, users check their phone once more to set their alarm, silence their ringers, or make sure no last minute messages or emails have come in. Some users also stream music at night to help them drift off to sleep, watch videos, or stream from popular entertainment networks like Netflix or Hulu.
As widespread as smartphone usage has become though, there is one surprising trend that continues to grow: most people have no idea how often they use their phone. Even if they think they know how often they are using their phone, it is quite often wildly inaccurate compared to their actual usage statistics.
On average, the typical mobile phone user accesses content on their phone as many as 150 times a day. This number is based on a study that used a smartphone app to track smartphone usage throughout the day for two weeks. Moreover, Analytics firm Deloitte estimates that the total number of phone checks per day in the United States comes out to a whopping average of 8 billion.
To say that smartphone and mobile phone use in the U.S. has continued to skyrocket over the last several years would be a gross understatement. However, as a socio-cultural trend in an ever more connected world, our phones are really our access point to the world around us more than they are simply a luxury item that we carry and access for convenience. With augmented reality apps for fun and education, instant access to nearly all of collected human knowledge to date, and the seamless connectivity that is currently being wrought by evolution of the “Internet of Things” (connecting stores, home appliances, vehicles, and mobile devices together to improve user quality of life), it is no wonder we are checking our phones more and more. While some may decry this as a dehumanization of society and an unhealthy dependence on technology, the growth in everyday mobile phone usage offers a bright future for work, play, and family life.
Certainly, people are using their cell phones more then they ever have in the past. Cell phones have become a huge part of a person. It is going to be nothing short of phenomenal to see how mobile phones are going to keep influencing our behavior over the next years.