Smartphone users bombarded with content
According to the report’s authors, smartphone content is created to compel. “Mobile games are engineered to tantalise,” they write.
“Networks become ever faster, enabling content to flow ever faster. Message inboxes refill relentlessly. Newsfeeds tirelessly deliver bottomless feeds of text, images and auto-playing video. Phones ring, vibrate and flash their screens to herald the arrival of new news and messages. Smartphones enable us to be perpetually excited, should we choose to succumb.”
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with somebody glued to their screen (or tutted to yourself as someone interrupts your important smartphone tasks by trying to start a conversation), the results of Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer Survey 2017 will come as no surprise. We might have already known we are a nation of smartphone addicts, but some of the statistics in the latest edition of Deloitte’s annual study might still raise eyebrows, with respondents admitting to checking their mobiles first thing in the morning, last thing at night and even while crossing the road.
Faced with this barrage of content, many are indeed choosing to succumb. Almost two fifths (39%) of respondents aged between 16 and 75 admitted that they used their smartphones too much. There was a distinct generational divide, with more than half (56%) of those aged 16-24 saying they used their phones too much. The figure was almost the same (55%) for the 25-34 age group but started to drop off after 35.
Just under half (47%) of those aged 35-44, less than a third (30%) of those aged 45-54 and 16% of those aged 55-64 felt they overused their mobile devices. Just 12% of smartphone owners aged 65-75 said the same.
Users check their devices even when crossing the road
The previous part of the survey, of course, relies on a certain level of self-awareness, not to mention subjectivity regarding the level of usage that counts as “too much.”
When asked when or where they felt they overused their smartphones, the most popular answer (provided by 40%) was “all the time.” 31% thought they used their phones too much in the evening, 24% when they were with family and 16% said they used their devices too much at the weekends. 15% found themselves staring at their screens overmuch when with friends and 13% thought they used their smartphones excessively at work or at school.
One particularly worrying statistic is that 11% of all respondents say they use their phones while crossing the road. More than half (53%) use their phones while walking.
Deloitte reports that some cities across the globe have started to reflect these trends, whether by placing traffic lights on the edge of pavements for pedestrians who are persistently looking downwards or segregating stretches of pavement, with one side reserved for smartphone users on the go. Honolulu, on the other hand, has opted to take a less indulgent stance and is set to start fining pedestrians who look at their phones while crossing the road.
Most people check their phones on waking
This year’s survey also revealed that 55% of smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up. For over a third (34%), that is far too long to wait and this demographic tend to check their phones within five minutes of waking.
As well as first thing, smartphone users often check their phones last thing at night. 78% of adults say they check their phones within an hour of going to sleep. Given that multiple studies have shown that exposure to screens before going to sleep can have a negative effect on sleep patterns, this means the majority of adults in the UK are potentially damaging their own sleep quality.
Many users also filled the waking hours in between with smartphone activity. Almost a fifth (17%) of 16-24 year olds said they looked at their phones at least 100 times per day, while 12% of teenagers (aged 16-19) said they looked at their smartphones 200 times daily.
Paul Lee, Head of Research for Technology, Media and Telecoms at Deloitte, said: “Most people can relate to ‘smartphone zombies’, either through being one or bumping into one. But this is just one indication of just how infatuated we are with these devices, for better or worse.
“While we may be glued to our smartphones, it is important to acknowledge that these devices are also, increasingly, the glue that is binding society together, and will soon become the primary way to communicate, interact and transact with customers and fellow citizens.”