Are you addicted? Survey finds 40 percent of smartphone use is compulsive

LONDON — Do you find yourself reaching for your smartphone and turning it on for no apparent reason? A new survey found that British consumers admit to doing this thousands of times per year — accounting for about 40 percent of the times they unlocked their phones.

Researchers at Casumo, an online casino company, surveyed 2,000 smartphone users across the United Kingdom, hoping to see how much of their device checking could be attributed to being creatures of habit.

Woman checking her smartphone
A new survey from the United Kingdom finds that about 40 percent of the time smartphone owners check their devices — it’s for no apparent reason. (Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash)

Finding that the average user unlocked their phone more than 10,000 times a year — or about 28 times a day — the researchers identified about 4,000 phone interactions a year as being “compulsive” (i.e., the owner had no particular act in mind when engaging).

Equally eye-opening was the finding that the highest decile of smartphone enthusiasts — or the top ten percent of users — opened their device 60-plus times every 24 hours.

Still, only a third of respondents earnestly believed they were addicted to checking their device.

“Our smart devices have become an essential part of modern life, and checking them regularly is second nature for most users,” says Greg Tatton-Brown, a spokesperson for Casumo, in a press release. “However, the instances of compulsive checking are much higher than we would have imagined, showing our phones are as much a habit as they are an aide to our busy lifestyles and an immediate source of entertainment, from wherever we are.”

As for the apps that most itch for our attention, Facebook came in first, followed by Whatsapp, Gmail, and Instagram.

Popularity didn’t always mean practicality, however, which was illustrated by Google Maps — which ranked ninth in terms of frequency of engagement — being considered the most useful app.

Despite the average user’s affinity for apps, breakups are rather common: the mean number of apps deleted in the past six months was reported to be three.

Perhaps the oddest finding was that seven percent of Brits were unable to identify that “app” was short for “application.”

Lastly, internet browsing was found to be slightly more common on mobile devices than it was on laptops, and the average user spent nearly an hour a day on their phone.

“Despite the presence of more useful apps, Facebook is the service which wins our time in the end,” Tatton-Brown concludes. “Gmail, Maps and a host of messaging services may help us more to organise our lives, but checking our updates on Facebook remains truly compulsive viewing instead of consciously looking for an entertaining break away from our daily routines.”