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.”


    “Internet applications are designed to make you use them compulsively because the more the apps are used, the more revenue they generate for the tech companies[Greenwald]. But internet apps can reduce your attention span and harm your intellectual capacity.[Hill] Having captured users’ attention, internet applications can be used to manipulate public opinion through targeted advertising[Madrigal] and biases in what they show in search results, suggestions, feeds and monetization[Barrett]. Compulsive use of apps is causing mental illness, self-harm[Chuck] and suicide[Twenge]. Computer games designed to make users play compulsively are also killing people who play until they drop dead.[Spragg] There are an increasing number of injuries and deaths from people using their cell phones compulsively while driving or walking.[Stock et. al.] And tech companies have provided terrorist groups with the use of their compulsion inducing platforms for “‘spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits'” which has led to the murder of innocent victims.[Carbone] The tech companies are culpable because their apps are designed to make you use them compulsively in order to generate more revenue. The tech companies have blood on their hands.”

    1. Imagine if mass immigration of non-Africans was demanded into All and Only African populations

      Wouldn’t it be obvious that someone was trying to rid the world of Africans?

      Stop #White Geno Cide

      1. Thank you for your post.
        That is the biggest thing on earth and everyone is afraid to notice it or they think they better pretend they don’t notice it.
        Because of the anti-white invasion civil war is coming soon to the nations of the west.

        1. im going to kill everyone i can. after iraq you have it coming. im a murdering veteran and ill kill until im stopped. no longr concerneed about identity

  2. The wretched devices should be banned. They are the new cigarettes. And worse, they render people unable to converse with real live other people.

    1. Who’s twisting your arm to have one? Are you unable to put them down yourself, so you have to condemn them for everyone?

      Look to your own problems rather than tending to those of others.

        1. Cigarettes can cause harm to others via second-hand smoke, therefore government has the authority to control the activity.

          Further, if one seeks taxpayer-assisted healthcare in order to address one’s health condition due to smoking, I get to have a say in that habit by my representatives in government. If my money is going to pay the bills, I get a say in what is causing that expenditure.

          For myself, I don’t care if someone smokes 20-packs a day, as long as I’m not affected. Don’t cause me harm, don’t trespass on my property and don’t use my tax money and you can do anything you like.

          1. Everything can harm to others?? No wonder the gov has it so easy with garbage regulations on everything.

      1. I don’t own one, resmrikc. I just have to dodge people on sidewalks and streets and grocery aisles who have their face buried in one. Their behavior is a threat to me and, beyond that, a threat to humanity itself. Are you one of those already merged with a robot? And one of those who prefers to have a droid in bed with you?

  3. It’s called CONDITIONING! Humans are merging with robots and look around: people are already droned out. Heads down, tapping and swiping, rarely making eye contact on a bus or in a line. Whether you like it or not, we are merging with robots and smartphones are the first step. The 2nd and 3rs steps are already being prepped….

  4. It was fine in the 70’s and 80’s with no phone whatsoever except MAYBE a landline at home,,,if home wasn’t a tent or station wagon or travel trailer. As long as the motorcycle was running well ( 72 GT 750 Suzuki ) and the bank cashed my check

    1. I had a Honda 750 back in the day. A friend let me ride his Kawa 750 triple, scared the hell out of me. Mostly, it felt like it was going to fly apart between my legs. Now, I’m 71 years old and much smarter. I ride a Suzuki GSX-R1000.

    2. The Kawasaki’s were faster but mine was water cooled, 2 stroke , 3 cylinder and rattled every window half a block away as the baffles continually rattled loose and the smoke was impressive….it had a GREAT feeling of power just idling. I wish i kept it .

  5. Oh God this is a stupid article. Most smartphone screens lock within seconds of not touching them (faster than the Drudge Report page force-reloads every 30 seconds to increase to billions the number of views on its page). Just disable the lock, look at the phone however many times you want/need.

    1. Exactly right. Get off ALL the sewer that is “social media”. Live your life in the REAL WORLD, instead of the alternate reality that is “social media”. Trust me, the world is NOT all about YOU, despite what your “selfies” make you believe, and the rest of the world is NOT just waiting to hear your next pearl of wisdom.

      1. i fucked 200 moms last year in colombia. next is your mom. true story 15 dollars on average. still hitmen are only aprox 30 dollars us. so visit and try me bitch

          1. obvio no estoy seriosa pero estoy seriosa que hoy yo pichado dos mamas en rionegro. fuck the police forever its legal in colombia and when liberals piss me off i go and bang even more. i also killed arabs in iraq from 04-05 thats where i learned my inhumanity. protecting capitalism. but who fucking cares if you only live once whats the fucking point besides banging as many women as i can. do you understand where i am comig from or ami i crazy?

    2. You know who’s on Facebook? Your parents. And your grandparents. Find something else to do with your life.

  6. I get distracted because of my Instagram addiction. I go on my phone to do one thing and when I unlock it, Instagram is still open. I end up scrolling through Instagram and forget to do what I intended to do and then have to go back.

  7. Pavlov’s dog. Habit and conditioning. Try doing something useful like reading a book and not on an electronic device. You will be surprised how restful and engaging it can be.

  8. I do a good bit, but just in response to emails and text messages. My wife’s and my cell phones are seldom used as most others do; we treat them as communications devices. Neither of us use social medial and TV shows and movies on a smart phone screen are for losers. They’re what our 60″ flat screen is for. Yeah, yeah … take your best shot. We don’t sleep with them either. They stay on our desks until the next morning; no emergency will be a whit better because we know about it immediately. The way we see it, the vast number of smartphone users are just modern versions of Pavlov’s dog. And during family and especially holiday meals, all cell phones are required to be locked in my gun safe; those who don’t agree don’t eat at our table. Nobody has really complained as I’m too good a cook. All this addictions to devices is actually funny to me. At least once per week I see a meltdown because of exhausted batteries. They scurry like roaches when I flip on the lights in my shop. Hysterical.

  9. One would think that the youth would be extremely tired of being a tool for the silicon giants of Amazon, Apple and Google. A tool that is the perfect receptacle for Advertising-Conditioning-Click/Buy. Nothing like being a tool of the machine.

    1. When the EMP, solar flare hits I’ll just climb in my 48 Dodge Sedan with the carburetor, breaker points ignition and vacuum tube radio and head out for the deep woods.

  10. I find this electronic drug as addicting as chemical drugs but more potentionally debilitating and less satisfying or fun.

  11. I check my cell once every two months, my regular phone once a week but my wife talk ten times a day on the phone…Jeez, even driving car is dangerous due to mindless cells users…I am working on a cell that will drive idiots to jump in front of big trucks! It is working somewhere, look on youtube at all the chineses doing it all the time!

    1. It is all part of the program. Look at how many TV shows use cell phones throughout the show. Look at how many ads have cell phones and iPads in the advert. Yet people still call others “conspiracy” this or that’s.

  12. “The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway,” he said.
    Product designers “play your psychological vulnerabilities (consciously and unconsciously) against you in the race to grab your attention,” he wrote
    “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them … was all about ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'” Parker said.

    “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.”

    He described Facebook as “”a social-validation feedback loop” that is “exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with,” because it exploits a psychological vulnerability.

    Adding their voice to the list of critics is Sean Parker, who in 2004 became the first person to serve as president of Facebook. During a talk in Philadelphia this week, Parker warned consumers that the social network, like other social media sites, was designed to exploit people’s psychological vulnerabilities.

    “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” said Parker

    1. Others besides “god” know. Just search “Dangers of cell phones” and see what scientists and studies have revealed. Right hand people get tumors on the right side, left, on the left, etc.

  13. I have macular degeneration and my wife decided I needed a phone with a big screen. She went out and bought me an iphone 7+. It was the most irritating thing I’ve ever owned, I suppose it did a lot of things but all I wanted to do was make and receive phone calls as infrequently as possible. I wound up handing it back to her and reactivating my eight year old flip phone. Somehow I’ve misplaced my flip phone, maybe I’ll start looking for it after the first of the year. I actually had a lady that was texting ram me in the butt with her shopping cart at the supermarket not long ago, I ask if she’d driven herself to the store.

        1. You bet. I only started using my phone two years ago after moving far off the grid and not wanting to pay hundreds of dollars to get land line stretched out here.

  14. Not THIS consumer. Some days, I don’t even pick up my phone, much less unlock it. And if I DO unlock it, I’m not looking at ads.

  15. Just search “Dangers of cell phones” and learn about the conditioning, the radiation EMF dangers, etc.

    You want a phone you can carry, get a $15 flip phone from Walmart and a 30 bucks a month service from Verizon. You can call and receive and can send texts with some difficulty from the lack of a keyboard. Good way to “come down” off the Jonesing.

  16. Meh.

    Since I’ve stopped wearing a watch, I use my phone to see what time it is. I guess, over the course of a day, that could come to a lot of uses, but big deal.

  17. This is fantastic news. Once the government nationalizes social media and the internet, then they can better protect citizens through strict monitoring. GPS, microphone, and camera should be enabled at all times by law; anyone caught breaking that law should be thrown in prison.

  18. Much ado about nothing. People have compulsive little habits, and fidget with stuff.

    Years ago I read about a similar study with people who wore watches. Many people compulsively looked at their watches several times an hour, and when asked seconds later what time it was, had to look at their watch to answer.

    Try it yourself for fun. When you see someone look at their watch, ask them what time it is. Chances are they’ll look at their watch again.

    The technology may have changed, but human behavior is what it is. Who would have thought people would spend money on fidget spinners?

  19. More addictive than heroin, cocaine, crack or meth.

    And every time you use it you get stupider and slower.

    Cell phone brain damage is epidemic.

  20. Diversity is a strength! (non whites moving into white places Only)
    Open Borders! (for white populations Only)
    Noone is Illegal! (where white people live Only)

    “Diversity is our strength” translates to “White people are our weakness”

    Thats how we know Anti racist is code for Anti white
    Thats how we know Diversity is code for White Geno Cide

  21. I wouldn’t know. I have a Tracfone flip phone that I carry for emergencies, when I need to call for help. I never answer any incoming calls or read any texts. I don’t give out the number. If someone wants to contact me they have my email address. I will never own a smart phone. I pay less than $10 per month for the service I have.

  22. No need to constantly check on what others are doing or saying. Why do you care so much? Kill you cell phone and live life to fullest.

  23. sure they are no more than a lap top or a desk top! but like all addictions you just need to balance your schedule of use! smartphones have become necessary for work and home life. the only land lines are now used for printers and even that will be gone because of wifi. technology always outpaces humans! in the 70’s i rarely read anything, today i read every day at 59. i rarely play games with apps or on the computer. the only good addiction i got was a drive to read more! it’s a trade off. like drugs weak minded people can become addicted on anything!

  24. Gee, I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees the want to pick up an object 50 times a day as something akin to a mental disorder. If you did something like that 20 years ago, you would be committed and monitored in a mental hospital facility and probably drugged up until the doctors figured out why you are a freak.

  25. It’s true, I’ve noticed that I keep doing it! Well I just got my first smartphone, a hand me down 5c. Just got a X this week and I can’t stop f-ing with it. Maybe I’ll get a girlfriend to put my fingers on and open…

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

    Maybe that’s because seven percent of Brits don’t know the meaning of the word “application.”

  27. Very similar to how email was when it was the only game in town. People couldn’t go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without checking their email. Same thing, different name; move along, nothing to see here. Intelligent life doesn’t exist here.

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