According to Gallup “the percentage of U.S. adults saying they use their smartphone “too much” has increased markedly in recent years, rising from 39% when Gallup last asked this in 2015 to 58% today, but even as Americans believe they use their smartphone too much, nearly two-thirds think their smartphone has made their life better — 21% say it has made their life “a lot” better and 44% “a little” better. This has declined slightly from the 72% perceiving a net benefit in 2015.
Smartphones have a love hate relationship with owners. Half of Americans agree with the statement, “I can’t imagine my life without my smartphone,” essentially unchanged from 47% seven years ago and just over eight in 10 adults (83%), similar to the rate in 2015 (82%), say they keep their smartphone near them almost all the time during their waking hours.
Just how bad is it? The percentage reporting they keep their smartphone near them at night while they sleep has increased slightly, from 63% to 72%. Additionally, a new question this year finds 64% saying they check their smartphone as soon as they wake up in the morning.
The same poll asked smartphone users to say whether they mainly use their smartphone or a computer to perform a number of routine actions — such as browsing the internet and using social media — or whether they use these tools equally.
Since 2015, Americans have become much more likely to report that they do these tasks mainly on their smartphone, rather than on a computer.
- The biggest change has been using smartphones for online purchases, rising from 11% who said they spent more time on their smartphone than their computer for this in 2015 to 42% today, a 31-percentage-point increase.
- There have been 23- to 25-point increases in Americans’ reliance on smartphones for browsing the internet, comparing prices or browsing products online, and managing one’s finances.
- The percentage relying on smartphones to use social media has risen 17 points, similar to the 14-point increase for managing one’s investments.
Americans, it seems, are increasingly being outsmarted by their own phones, with a growing number believing they use their device too much. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they feel the need to resist its charms, as the vast majority think their smartphone has made their life better. Further, smartphones are increasingly becoming the people’s preferred method for carrying out essential tasks, making the device itself more essential.