Health

How Much Do You Check Your Phone Every Day?

July 10th 2015

By:
Kyle Jaeger

A recent Gallup poll confirmed what many of us might already suspect: smartphone owners spend a lot of time checking their devices. At least 52 percent of the smartphone owning population in the U.S. checks their phones "several times an hour or more frequently," according to the research organization, 41 percent check it a few times an hour and 11 percent who say they check it every few minutes. 

Gallup Panel Poll

A special Gallup Panel surveyed 15,747 of the country's adults with smartphones over the course of a month, relying on web-based and mail-in responses from a sample group spread across all 50 states. The probability-based survey determined that, based on the reported frequency of smartphone users, the majority of Americans "must be keeping their smartphones by their sides during the day." Again, no surprise there—and the data corroborates the common assumption: "81 percent of smartphone users say they keep their phone near them 'almost all the time during waking hours.'"​

"Americans' attachment to their smartphones is so strong that 63 percent report keeping it near them at night even while sleeping," Gallup reports. "Some of this may be simple convenience if the phone is checked last thing before going to sleep and first thing upon waking. It may also reflect that many Americans use the alarm clock feature on their smartphones to wake them up each morning."

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Gone are the days of traditional wind-up, spring-driven alarm clocks, the survey suggests; here are the days of the smartphone, with its diverse range of beeps, buzzes, and incessant snooze notifications.

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Gallup also revealed something that does perhaps come as a surprise. That is, most of us underestimate the extent to which we check our screens—at least by contrast to others. Researchers found that "the majority of American smartphone owners perceive that their use of their own device is below average (a mathematical impossibility)." 

Gallup Poll

"Why Americans tend to perceive that they monitor their smartphone less often than others is not firmly established," Gallup notes. It could be that they're misperceiving how others use their devices, of course, "or that they feel it is a socially undesirable behavior and therefore want to believe that they aren't doing it as much as others." 

The special survey panel also looked at the relationship between the age of smartphone users and how frequently each generational cohort checks their devices on a daily basis. Of course the data skewed young. 

"More than seven in 10 young smartphone owners check their device a few times an hour or more often, including 22-percent who admit to checking it every few minutes," Gallup notes. "That contrasts with the 21-percent of smartphone owners who are aged 65 and older who check it a few times an hour or more, with a miniscule 3 percent of that older age group checking it every few minutes."

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The takeaway? We use our cell phones a lot, especially young people—presumably due to increased social media activity—but few of us want to come to terms with the data. It's a trend that is sure to increase as access to these devices continues to rise. 

"All of the consequences of this brave new world in which individuals essentially stay in constant touch with the world through their handheld devices are certainly not known at this point, but are being studied with increasing frequency," Gallup's Frank Newport says. "Certainly the telephone and then radio and then television changed the way people relate to the world, and the smartphone, no doubt, is doing the same."