Every year it seems we are becoming more and more obsessed with personal devices, screens and in particular our smartphones. With these devices now offering apps for almost everything, it’s hard to remember a simpler time when phones were used mainly for making calls. We now totally immerse ourselves in social media apps that have become many young peoples main means of communicating and consuming media. This has led to many people asking “How much is too much?” when it comes to smartphone usage. We’ve decided to investigate the many reports over the last few years to determine roughly the amount of time that could be considered “normal” for people spend on their phones.


An image of a woman using a mobile phone. We investigate how long is too much time on your phone


We will also examine how this figure varies across different countries, different age groups and the apps that we can’t seem to get enough of. From these stats you will hopefully get an idea of exactly how your own “screen time” compares to that of the general public. We start by looking at the results of an article from Business Insider called “Smartphone addiction seems to only be getting stronger”. In this article, the amount of hours per day spent on a mobile device is segmented by different countries. So how do we rank as a country when it comes to our dependence on our phones. Brazil appears to have by far the greatest problem with screen time as an average 4:48 hours (nearly 1/5th) a day spent with their heads buried in a phone. China (3:03) and the USA (2:37) come in second and third while the UK (2:09), which would be a good indicator of the Irish population, seem to be a lot more conservative when it comes to phone usage.


An image of someone using their smartphone at a music festival. Over 4 hours per day may be too much time on your phone


With Millenials (those born between the 1980s and 2000) being the first real generation to grow up with mobile phones, they have without a doubt been the quickest to adopt the devices as a growing part of their lives. This is reflected in the below study conducted by online stat company “Statista”. They show the stark increase in recent usage as average millennial daily minutes spent on mobile media has more than doubled from 107 in 2012 to 223 in 2017. This presents us with a wider ranging indication of exactly what “normal” usage may be.


An image of a bar chart displaying the results of a survey on minutes spent per day on mobile phones. This is a good barometre of whether you are spending too much time on your phone

Image Via: Statista.com 


Another important question to ask is what exactly is it that keeps our attention for this amount of time? Mediakix, an American Influencer marketing agency, put together some interesting infographics on the the various apps and sites where we spend most of our time. These figures (calculated in 2016) show that people consume the majority of their digital media on apps such as YouTube, Facebook and other social networks. Although this isn’t massively surprising, the amount we spend on each is definitely an insight into what types of content grabs us. YouTube (40 mins), Facebook (35 mins), Snapchat (25 mins) and Instagram (15mins) all amount to just under 2 hours on this study and that doesn’t even take into account news apps, streaming apps or other phone usage. Of course as the popularity of certain apps and features grow, these figures will change along with them.


An image of a smartphone displaying the various social apps that are popular. How long you spend on each of these will determine if you spend too much time on your phone


From these studies it’s clear that there is no real definitive answer to this question, especially as smartphones and our relationship with them is constantly changing. However, if you’re a younger person based in the UK or Ireland, have access to the internet and a suite of your favourite apps, then spending anywhere between 2 and 3 hours a day on your phone would appear to be common. However, if you find yourself scrolling well past 4 hours a day and into the early hours each night, you may need to learn how and when to switch off!

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