3 Points About American Adults And Their Smartphones

August 8, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Mobile Phone | Youth & Gen X

Virtually all (95% of) 18-29-year-old Americans who own a smartphone keep it near almost all the time during waking hours, and likewise more than 9 in 10 (92%) keep it near at night when sleeping. This is per survey data from Gallup, which examines Americans’ relationships with their smartphones and how it has evolved over the past several years.

1. Smartphone Owners Remain Attached to Their Devices

Although recent Kantar data has suggested that Americans are becoming more blasé about their smartphones, this latest research indicates that attachment behavior still very much exists, particularly among youth and the middle-aged. Indeed, almost two-thirds (64%) of 18-29-year-old smartphone owners say they can’t imagine life without their device, a view shared by a majority (53%) of smartphone owners ages 30-49.

Moreover, a slight majority of smartphone-owning adults ages 18-29 and 30-49 admitted that they would be anxious if they lost their device for a day.

These sentiments aren’t in the majority for smartphone owners ages 50-64 and 65+. However, more than two-thirds of each group keep their devices near almost all of the time during waking hours, and about half of each group check their devices upon awaking in the morning.

Some attachment behaviors haven’t changed much over the years: about half of smartphone owners overall agreed that they can’t imagine their life without their smartphone, basically unchanged from 47% in 2015. Moreover, the 44% overall saying that they would feel anxious if they lost their phone for a day is relatively steady from 42% in 2015. (One wonders if the survey demographics would factor into play here: it’s likely that in 2015 more of the smartphone-owning adults surveyed were younger, whereas there would be a greater representation of older smartphone owners in this survey, with these respondents less likely to display potentially addictive behaviors.)

2. More Say They Spend Too Much Time on Their Smartphones

Compared to 2015, a far greater share of US smartphone-owning adults say they spend too much time using their smartphone: 58% confessed to that perception this year, compared to 39% in 2015. There’s again a large divergence by age group, with 81% of 18-29-year-old respondents saying they spend too much time with their device, compared to just 30% of those ages 65 and older.

However, in each age group the percentage saying they spend too much time with their smartphone has increased substantially since 2015.

3. A Declining Majority Say Their Device Has Made Their Life Better

Smartphone owners still overwhelmingly believe their smartphone has made their life better, but not quite to the extent they felt a few years ago. This year 65% feel that their device has made their life either a lot (21%) or a little (44%) better. However, that’s down from 72% who felt that way in 2015 (25% and 47%, respectively).

Correspondingly, a larger share this year feel that their device has made their life worse (12%) than in 2015 (6%).

For more, check out the full survey results here.

About the Data: The 2022 results are based on a January-February survey of 34,591 adults (18+), of whom 97% (32,704) reported having a smartphone.

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