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(Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash)

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.”

About Daniel Steingold

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93 Comments

  1. Oracle says:

    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.

  2. Phineas McCabe says:

    I know I do!

  3. Green Eagle says:

    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.

  4. ckirmser says:

    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.

  5. cdj says:

    Small sample size and not surprising!

  6. Christine Guinn says:

    There’s a REASON that the term “Crackberry” was coined!

  7. Orange_Crush_The _Liberal_Mind says:

    Better than being addicted to drugs I suppose.

  8. RegisteredDemocrat says:

    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.

  9. DF says:

    Endorphin release explains the phenomenon quit well. Seek pleasure, avoid pain (of boredom).

  10. GenXrated says:

    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?

  11. Rupert Chappelle says:

    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.

  12. blair says:

    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

  13. President & Mrs. Stainmaker says:

    In a related finding, idiots compulsively vote for Democrats 140% of the time.

  14. The Founder says:

    Just stop buying those useless pieces of schitt.

    1. MK Smith says:

      Good for Candy Crush in the doctor’s waiting room.

  15. Name says:

    The only difference between Facebook and CTE is that it takes time for CTE to exhibit symptoms.

  16. professorchaos says:

    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.

  17. Slockum says:

    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.

  18. carl6352 says:

    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!

  19. alex says:

    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.

  20. Azariah Geza says:

    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…