A piece of Gallup research has identified what a brief walk through an American city will tell a casual observer: Americans check their device several times an hour. Furthermore, four out of five Americans have their smartphone with them throughout the day and three out of five, throughout the night. In the detail, one in ten people admitted checking their smartphone every few minutes, four in ten checked a few times an hour. One in five Americans checked their device one per hour and around three in ten, less frequently. Half of all Americans check their device several times an hour, and we wonder why our smartphone batteries never seem big enough!
The Gallup survey included responses from just under sixteen thousand North American adults who own smartphones, with a claimed one percent error margin. Gallup didn't address what people were checking their smartphones for, be it for email, texting, browsing the Internet or using a social network. Gallup did suggest that people keep their smartphones close to them at night because the device is often used as an alarm clock and this has given people the habit of checking with it before going to sleep and as they wake up.
We have also seen evidence collated that shows there are real psychological and physical side effects from excessive use of a mobile device and the first is known as "technoference." This is how a glance at a device during a conversation can create conflict and ill-feelings between the two people. It's easy to see why: if two people are talking but one picks up a mobile 'phone and checks a message, he or she is not giving the other their full attention. Another potential issue is colloquially called "techneck," which is a technology-related neck injury defined as a "specific crease just above the collarbone that is caused by repeated bending of the neck to look at the screen of a portable device." As we bend our neck to look down at a device, the amount of force required to support our head increases. If we are checking our device several hundred times a day this can cause back and neck muscle deterioration that, in extreme cases, can require surgery.
It's easy to see why the smartphone has become the centre of our worlds. Smartphones are very personal devices - if you wish to call somebody, most of us think to call their mobile or cell 'phone. However, in a relatively short space of time we have added more and more ways to communicate via our smartphones and they are of course readily accessible. If you feel you are over-using your smartphone, there are some simple techniques you can try to help reduce your habit. The easiest way to reduce your reliance on the device is to hide the notifications: your device does not need to beep at every new Tweet, Google+ notification and Instagram like. Disabling most of the notifications on your device may help you stop to reach for it because something interesting might have just happened. Another trick is to put your smartphone into a fixed place when you are at home or at work: this may help prevent you from using it when you are supposed to be working or are with the family. This will help wean you off the desire to check your 'phone when you are bored.