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A Shocking Number Of People Still Use Their Phone Primarily To Make Actual Phone Calls

And other entertaining stats about our obsessive connection to our devices.

A Shocking Number Of People Still Use Their Phone Primarily To Make Actual Phone Calls
[Photo: Rodion Kutsaev via Unsplash] [Photo: Rodion Kutsaev via Unsplash]

75% of U.S. smartphone users never switch off their phones, and almost half of us check our phones before we get out of bed, according to a survey by ReportLinker. For some, these figures may be startling. But those of us in that 75% will probably be wondering, why the hell does anyone ever turn off their phone at all?

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The survey was conducted online in January, and extrapolates its results from 536 respondents. Despite this small sample size, the results are pretty entertaining. Let’s take a look:

First up, waking up. Overall, 46% of us check our phones as soon as we wake up. If you count only millennials, that number rises to 66%. If we manage not to look at a screen until after we get out of bed, we still don’t make it through breakfast: another 28% check their phones during breakfast. Those figures aren’t so unexpected when you consider that our phones have replaced books and newspapers, and reading first thing in the morning is something humans have done since newspapers were available.

More worrying is the statistic that 10% of respondents admit waking up in the middle of the night to check their phones, although the survey doesn’t specify whether they set an alarm to do so, or just grabbed they phone when they woke up anyway.

What apps do we launch when we fire up the phone for the first time each morning? Email and social media apps are split, at 31% each, with news coming in at 11%, and games at 10%.

But the real surprises come later in the day when we get to work. For instance, even among millennial, only 60% say that use their phones for personal stuff during the work day. That seems very low, but as a journalist who works from home, my views are probably skewed. Even weirder is the fact that 37% of people use their smartphones primarily for making actual phone calls. That’s the majority activity. The next most popular use is texting (26%), followed by 16% of people who mostly use the internet. So, phones really are still used as phones after all.

There are few surprises when it comes to the breakdown of app uses: Social media wins, at 31%, followed by email (18%), taking photos (15%), and reading news (12%). One wonders how people differentiate between “news” and “social media,” as many people use Twitter and Facebook as their news sources.

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After the work day is done, and even millennials have stopped goofing off to check Facebook on company time, phone use continues. 53% of respondents say that they check their phones right before going to bed, and 13% “when they fall asleep.” Again, reading before bed is not new, but reading a smartphone screen as you try to nod off is a no-no. The blue light coming from the LED screens of smartphones and tablets tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, and it won’t let you sleep.

Finally, what happens to our old phones when we’re done with them and have moved on to the next version? Most people drop it in a drawer and forget about it (35%), and a quarter of us hand our old phones down to a friend or relative when we upgrade. Another 18% give it to a store with some kind of recycling scheme, 10% give it to charity, and 4% toss it in the regular trash, presumably due to idiocy induced by sleep deprivation.

Our phones are intertwined in our lives these days. They not only replace other gadgets like iPods and cameras, they replace books, newspapers, and computers. And they connect us more than ever before, either to people we know or to strangers with common interests. It’s no wonder we use the things so much of the time. Seriously though, if any of our readers are among the quarter of people who switch their phones off at night, please get in touch and tell us why you do it. I honestly can’t see the point.

About the author

Previously found writing at Wired.com, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.

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