I Spend 12% Of My Waking Hours On My Phone

This Callahan writer tracked his mobile phone usage for the past six months. Here’s what he found.

 
 

I’m 24, employed, and renting a house with three of my friends in a suburb of Washington, DC. I have student loans, a credit card, and other miscellaneous expenses. I am a millennial.

Like most people of my generation, my phone is important to my everyday life. It’s where I bank, it’s where I maintain my social networks, and it’s where I email and check sports scores and repay debts (thank you Venmo). 

I knew I used my phone a good chunk of time, but I wanted to know just how much. So I ran a little experiment.

For the past six months (starting June 30, 2015) I’ve used the mobile app Moment to track my phone usage. The app is designed to be invisible. It tracks how much users use their phone each day, allowing them to set daily limits. For the purposes of this study, I chose not to set limits. Instead, I let Moment run freely in the background.

Other than consciously allowing the app to track my usage at all times, I hardly noticed Moment. In fact, putting together this post was the first time I engaged meaningfully with this data — which is not the intended way to use Moment. To the best of my ability, I tried to paint an accurate picture of my daily mobile phone usage devoid of any self-policing.

It's important to note, the app doesn’t track what the user is doing with the phone. Rather, it shows usage in minutes and the number of times throughout the day the user has the phone open, a “pickup.” The first graph below shows the number of minutes I spent using my phone each day; the second, the number of pickups.

TOTAL SCREEN TIME (IN MINUTES)
Data as of 01.07.16

Moment_Screen_Time_(In_Minutes)

TOTAL PICKUPS
Data as of 01.07.16

Moment_Pickups

 A few key points:

  • Moment rates a user’s time on phone each day on a scale from green to yellow to red. From “good” usage to “bad.” By default, 64 minutes or less is categorized as green, 89 minutes or less is yellow, and higher is red.
  • Based on this rating system, I had 18 green days and 33 yellow days. According to the app, on approximately 27% of the 191 days that make up my sample set, I had less than 90 minutes of screen time.
  • On average, I spent 126.6 minutes on my phone each day. My average pickups per day was 95.6.
  • The day I spent the greatest amount of time on my phone was Monday, Sept. 28. That day I spent 312 minutes on my phone. The day where I spent the least amount of time on my phone was Saturday, Dec. 12,  at just 26 minutes.
  • Two days tied for my highest number of pickups: Friday, Aug. 21, and Thursday, Dec. 10, with 147 each. The day with my least number of pickups was Sunday, Aug. 23, with 30.

Based on these last two data points, I was interested to see how my phone usage ebbed based on the day of the week. Below I’ve included graphs showing both average screen time per day of the week and average pickup per day of the week:

AVERAGE DAILY SCREEN TIME (IN MINUTES)
Data as of 01.07.16

Moment_Average_Daily_Screen_Time

AVERAGE DAILY PICKUPS
Data as of 01.07.16

Moment_Average_Daily_Pickups

For average time, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the days I log the most screen time — Tuesday is highest with 141 minutes, on average. For pickups, it’s Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday — Wednesday is highest with approximately 105.

The data tells me a few things. First, to my credit, I’ve been using my phone less since my usage peaked in late September. Second, the majority of my usage occurs during weekdays and drops noticeably on the weekend. Why that is I can only speculate.

What I can offer is this: Based on nothing but my own observations, my totals don’t seem all that large. I know many people who check and are on their phones much more frequently than I. In fact, I’m confident saying I fall comfortably into the average of these categories for the entire millennial population. I don’t know that to be true, of course, but it’s my suspicion.

In any event, one thing is clear: mobile is massive. As embarrassing as it is to type, I spent more than 24,000 minutes on my phone the past 191 days. That’s roughly 9% of all available (awake and sleeping) hours. Assuming I sleep six-and-a-half hours each night (thank you Fitbit), I’m on my phone 12% of my waking hours.

For credit unions looking for a reason to invest more in mobile to attract younger generations, scroll up.