According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey, Americans check their smartphones 52 times a day. That’s five times more on a daily basis than last year. The report also reveals that smartphone sales are on the decline.
Apple is taking fire from all sides. On the one hand, they are held almost entirely responsible for smartphone addiction. On the other hand, analysts are reporting that Apple is having a hard time selling new iPhones, thus, depressing their stock price. cnet adds a few more numbers to consider.
“It’s a habit many people are trying to cut, according to the consulting firm’s survey. Around 40 percent of people say they use their phones too much. Additionally, 60 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds admit they’re hooked on their devices. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they’re trying to limit their usage, but only around half actually succeed.”
Early this year, the NYT declared, “It’s Time for Apple to Build a Less Addictive iPhone.” Apple responded to the challenge with a new feature called Screen Time which charts how much time you spend on your phone, on specific apps, and everything associated with usage metrics. It even provides a way for you to limit your time on apps. Google produced similar software around the same time.
But that is not enough. Cnet said, “our phone addiction isn’t getting any better.” But it is questionable whether addiction is even applicable in this case. Clinical addiction refers to something that interferes with a person’s ability to function normally with regard to things like holding a job and maintaining relationships. There is no hint that this is the cased just because we check our phones 52 times a day. There are other reasons not to be concerned.
We still have relationships. We are still going out to eat with friends, watching TV and movies together, and engaging in long-term, romantic relationships. Some of that is being supplemented with the smartphone when we can’t be there in person. But much of the time we spend on the phone is still time spent with other people we care about.
The smartphone consolidates many activities. Before smartphones, we played board games and card games and solitaire and no one thought that was bad. All we have done is transferred those activities to smartphone versions of the same. Instead of watching TV for five hours a day, we are enjoying similar activities on the smartphone. The activities are the same, just consolidated to a single device.
The smartphone enables community. Finally, the smartphone enables many to experience a community that they may not have otherwise enjoyed. The biggest increase in smartphone purchasing is found in people over 45. Facebook has been a boon for seniors who are either shut in or unable to get out as frequently as they like. People who are socially introverted also find community online.
We are getting a great deal of benefit from smartphone use. And so far, no one has made a convincing case that frequent smartphone use is actually a problem that needs to be solved. In the meantime, you very likely read this on a smartphone.