Downtime? Half of UK Smartphone Owners Prefer to Check Their Devices

October 18, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Mobile Phone | Tablet | UK | Youth & Gen X

IABUK-British-Smartphone-Owners-Tech-Addiction-Oct2013More examples of smartphone dependence are emerging (to go with some listed here), this latest one coming from the IAB UK. According to the IAB’s report, 52% of UK smartphone owners would prefer to check their phone during any downtime rather than sit and think. Among 18-30-year-old smartphone owners, that figure rises to 62%. Apparently, no amount of “downtime” is too short: almost 4 in 10 admit to checking their smartphones during a break in conversation with their friends.

British consumers seem to be wedded not just to their smartphones, but to all forms of connected technology, according to the report. Based on more than 700 hours of video footage from people wearing FishEyeâ„¢ cameras from research agency Firefish, the study indicates that participants picked up or used a connected device (such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop) 34 times a day. In total, participants used connected devices for an average of 2 hours and 12 minutes per day (presumably outside of work), with almost half of that time (1 hour and 1 minute) devoted to using at least 2 devices simultaneously.

The study brings to mind research released last year by Time magazine. Time’s “A Biometric Day in the Life” evaluated the behavior of digital natives (those who grew up with mobile technology as part of their daily lives) by having them wear biometric belts, which measured their emotional engagement throughout their normal day, as well as glasses with embedded cameras that monitored which medium or platform they were using and when they altered their visual attention. The study stunningly found that digital natives switch their attention between media platforms (i.e. TVs, magazines, tablets, smartphones, or channels within platforms) on average 27 times per hour, or about every 2 minutes.

The effect of this near-constant switching was that digital natives were less likely to experience wide ranges of emotional responses.

The IAB UK quotes Dr. Simon Hampton, Psychology lecturer at University of East Anglia: “People’s inability to leave their phones alone is the newest addition to common ‘displacement’ behaviors.” The good news for marketers? “This mildly compulsive behavior might be exploited to encourage purchasing.”

About the Data: Firefish also carried out 1,350 interviews among UK smartphone owners.

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