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How much time do we spend on our phones?

The RescueTime blog post Screen time stats 2019: Here’s how much you use your phone during the workday? by Jory MacKay (3/21/2019) provides data on phone use. Note that

Let’s start with the high-level stats. When we looked at the data of 11,000 users who actively use the RescueTime app, we found that most peopleon average, spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on our phones.

So, the data comes from users of the RescueTime app and even though the sample size is large it is not a random sample. It is an interesting question if this sample of users is under users or over users of their phones. Still, the data is interesting.

And while a recent Deloitte survey found the average American checks their phone 47 times a day, our number was slightly higher. We found that, on average, users check their phones 58 times a day with 30 check-ins happening during working hours (9am–5pm).

Most people spend about 1 minute and 15 seconds on their phone each time they pick them up. This means we’re losing 37.5 minutes a day during working hours to our phones (at a minimum).

The graph copied here is a representation of what those 37.5 minutes may look like.  Why does this matter?

Psychologists have found that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of your productive time.

And when it comes to our phones especially, it’s not just the switches themselves that interrupt our day, but the expectation of being interrupted.

In fact, a recent study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Researchfound that even the presence of a turned off smartphone lowered our cognitive performance. In other words, just having your phone around undercuts your ability to do good work.

There are more graphs in the article and plenty of quantitative information for a stats or QL course.

About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

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