Young People Completely Wedded to Their Mobile Phones

December 14, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Email | Media & Entertainment | Mobile Phone | Social Media | Youth & Gen X

It’s been seen before that smartphone owners feel naked without their devices, but a pair of new studies, from Cisco and Performics, show just how tethered they – in particular younger owners – are to their mobile phones. Survey results from Performics find that 78% of 18-29-year-old social media users are very or extremely dependent on their mobile phones, and that 20% of the total sample check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up. Not to be outdone, the Cisco study reveals that 40% of 18-30-year-olds in the US check their smartphones at least once every 10 minutes.

Turning first to the Performics study, the results show that a greater proportion of the 18-29-year-old respondents feel dependent on their mobile phones than feel the same away about their desktops, laptops, or tablets. The same holds true for the 30-49 age group. Among younger smartphone owners, the inability to text is the primary separation anxiety, while for older smartphone owners, the inability to call is the bigger source of tension.

Back to the Cisco study (limited to smartphones), the results are even more dramatic. 45% of respondents (all aged 18-30) always check their smartphones for email, texts, and social media updates as part of their daily morning routine. Another 43% do so if they have time. Overall, 60% of the total sample (across the 18 countries) compulsively check their smartphones for emails, texts, or social media updates – and 42% say they would feel “anxious, like part of me was missing” if they couldn’t check their devices constantly.

Much as with the Performics results, which saw respondents more dependent on their mobile phones than on their laptops, the Cisco study finds that if they had to choose a single device, young respondents were as likely to choose their smartphones as they were to favor their laptops.

All this translates to a near-addiction to smartphones on behalf of these Gen Yers. In fact, 3 in 4 use their devices in bed, more than one-third use them in the bathroom, and more than half use them during social meals.

Email, Social Networking Most Common Activities for Youth

Among 18-29-year-old respondents to the Performics study, “Life on Demand,” 62% use their mobile phone to log in to social networks on a daily basis, while 58% check the weather forecast, 56% review their calendar and appointments, and 56% check or send emails. Among the 30-49 crowd, email takes prevalence, ahead of checking the weather forecast and the calendar. It should be noted that respondents were required to have a social networking account, which might push the social networking figures slightly higher, though data from Nielsen shows that checking social media via a mobile device is increasingly popular.

Among Performics respondents of all ages who use both a smartphone and tablet, a greater proportion prefer to use their smartphones for email, music, navigation, music & video, and social networking (among others), while tablets are preferred for activities such as news, productivity, education, and entertainment.

About the Data: The Performics data is based on a survey of 1,986 respondents, each of whom was required to have a social network account.

The third in an annual series, the 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress, an independent market research firm based in the United States. The global study consists of two surveys: one focused on college students and workers aged 18 to 30, and the second focused on IT professionals. Each survey includes 100 respondents from each of 18 countries: United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Turkey, South Africa, India, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.


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