Ever thought it might be interesting to compare what screens we spend our time looking at? It’s a multi-screen world out there, and we do spend a great deal of time looking at screens of various types and sizes. But which ones, and how do we compare to other countries?
The chart below reveals a snapshot of daily screen ‘consumption’, and was generated from results of a Milward Brows Ad Reaction survey of 30 countries. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it confirms that – even with competition from television and PCs – it is Smartphones that are capturing our attention the most.
The UK’s daily smartphone usage was 23rd from the list of 30, at 111 minutes. Nigeria topped the charts with a whopping 193 minutes, that’s more than three hours spent on a smartphone per day! They were followed closely by Saudi and Indonesia, with 189 and 181 minutes respectively. Are these countries disproportionately addicted to the Smartphone life, or does it simply indicate there’s nothing much worth watching on TV?! In reality, smartphone usage was near the top in every surveyed country, it seems all other mediums are losing the battle for our attention, wherever we are.
A Computer in Your Pocket
When you think about it, these huge daily usage numbers really shouldn’t come as any surprise, because our mobile phones are normally used as anything but phones! They are more like micro-computers that happen to make calls. The term smartphone is almost a misnomer, because the vast majority of our time is spent doing anything but making calls.
We’re all texting, browsing, messaging, posting, taking pictures, running apps, playing games or otherwise sharing content in some way. Making phone calls seems a distant concern, reflected by the fact most ‘phone’ contracts offer a gazillion texts included with just 100 minutes of talk time! Prior to the evolution of smartphones, it was all about getting as much talk time as possible – so maybe they are not that smart after all? But although we’re talking less, some would argue we’re communicating more. Well, I for one am not entirely convinced that sharing the picture of your pizza on Instagram is communicating, even if Johnny from Utah likes it!
Smartphone – the new BFF!
So has the Smartphone also evolved to represent a kind of companion? You never really feel alone when you have one with you, because arguably you’re always ‘connected’. And many feel actual anxiety if they forget to take out with them, let alone lose it. It’s a bit like the movie Home Alone; your smartphone is Kevin! You know – it’s that feeling when you are 20 miles into a journey, or out shopping or in a field with the dog, and it hits you. You’ve left your phone at home!!
You tap your pocket and everything stops as you grimace at the reality of its emptiness! Suddenly you can clearly picture your phone at home, alone, enjoying itself without you and processing the dozens of text and notifications you’ve surely missed in the meantime. You’re unplugged. And it hurts!
The smartphone has evidently, inadvertently even, tapped into our basic human need to share, contribute – feel significant even. What’s a fantastic view if you can’t show someone? And what’s the first thing you want to do when receiving important news? We want to share the experience, and the smartphone lets us.
So is a smartphone is our companion, or does it just keep our companions close by us, ready to respond or help or interact at the press of a button? If so, perhaps it’s no surprise we can feel lost without them…