Americans Spend an Average of 3.5 Hours a Day Looking at Their Phones

We're expected to hit the four-hour mark by 2021

cell phone
When does phone use become problematic?
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By Bonnie Stiernberg / January 8, 2020 7:00 am

According to a new Vox piece about the “time well spent” movement meant to reduce the time we all spend staring at our phones and other devices, Americans last year spent an average of three hours and 30 minutes using mobile internet.

That’s up about 20 minutes from last year’s average, and it’s supposed to increase to four hours by 2021. However, the general tendency is lots of quick, fragmented glances at one’s phone rather than any extended period of browsing. As Vox points out, the average person checks their phone 58 times a day, and most of those phone sessions are under two minutes.

However, as Nir Eyal, author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, told the publication, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re all addicted to our phones. “We want to think that we’re getting addicted because an addiction involves a pusher, a dealer — someone’s doing it,” he said. “Whereas when we call it what it really is, which is distraction — now in the US, we don’t like to face that fact — that means we have to do something that’s no fun.”

As for what you should do if you think you are spending too much time on your phone? “Have you tried to turn off notifications, for God’s sake?” he asks. “Have you planned your day so that you don’t have all this white space where you’re free to check your phone all the time?”

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