Social psychology

Screen time: survey finds that Americans now spend up to 3 months per year on their phones

Screen time - people on phones for months

Screen time overload: according to a new survey published by satellite broadband provider Viasat, the typical American now spends 2-3 months per year on their phone.

For the survey, the researchers asked 1,000 Americans to estimate their smartphone use. They then compared these figures to actual reports produced by the phones themselves (using Screen Time reports for Apple phones, and Digital Wellbeing reports for Android phones). The data was collected during the summer of 2020, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. That is, when many of the surveyed were ostensibly “working” from home, For example, which could just as easily mean playing video games or watching TYT YouTube videos, rather than doing actual work-related chores.

Three months of phone screen time. Per year

The survey found that “the average American is projected to spend 3 months on their phone by the end of 2020, with 30% spending 4-6 hours a day on their phone.”

GenZ respondents actually spend even more time — between 6-8 hours a day — on their phones.

And 15% of respondents use their phones ten or more hours per day — equivalent to five months per year.

Generational divide

The numbers dropped considerably by generation. GenZ respondents (born since 1997) used their phones 6-8 hours per day, Millennials (1981 – 1996) and GenX’ers (1965 – 1980) 4-6 hours per day, and Boomers (1946 – 1964) 0-2 hours per day.

The survey also found that 72% of the respondents worry that they spend too much time on their phones. Women were more likely than men to feel this way.

Likewise, 65% of respondents said they feel anxious when they don’t have their phones nearby. This anxiety has also been referred to as nomophobia.

For men, Sunday was the day they used their phones the most, versus Monday for women.

Most-used apps are Facebook, YouTube, and Netflix

The most-used app overall was Facebook, followed by YouTube and Netflix. Respondents aged 25-34 were the most likely to have Facebook as the most-used app on their phones, while those aged 16-24 were the least likely to do so.

Interestingly, the most-used app among 26 to 28-year-olds was Slack.

For more details on the survey, see the graphics below.


Other recent science and psychology news:

  • A high IQ increases the probability of being liked by peers, but also decreases the probability of liking them back.
  • According to a new research paper, conservatives are more decisive and more confident in their judgments than liberals are.
  • TV violence involving guns (versus other forms of violence) increased from 2000 to 2018, in step with actual gun homicides.
  • A typical high-speed, air-based hand dryer spreads more germs and bacteria than paper towels do.
  • About 76% of Americans who have been working from home since Covid say it has improved their relationships with their co-workers.

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