Mobile’s Not-So-Secret Explosion


Here at Loves Data, we've been touting the importance of mobile for years, but even as the reported usage of mobiles and tablets for online tasks exponentially increased, the numbers never quite seemed to compare to the reality around us. Now, we might know why. Today we learned that most studies around the usage of mobile phones are based on self-reports, and as it turns out, we’re not very good at gauging our own behaviour. According to a new study from the University of Lancaster, people consistently under-reported their mobile usage by about 50%. Most people reported being on their phones two to three hours a day when in reality they clocked over five hours. Many of those hours were actually made up of small bursts of usage. Participants in the study checked their phones over 85 times a day during the study, with about half of those interactions lasting under 30 seconds.

This study is relatively small and was restricted to the 19-33 age group, but new numbers from Pew Research in the United States also indicate that it’s an increasingly mobile world. While the percentage of the population who own a computer has on average held steady, the percentage of adults who own a mobile phone continues to rise. Ownership of a smartphone is seeing an even sharper increase with penetration surpassing that of computers for the first time this year.

So while we already knew that when it came to online engagement, mobile is king, even we might have underestimated the depths of a relationship between a person and their smartphone.