Mobile phone usage – perceptions v reality

My good friend Tim Kourdi brought these graphs to my attention, recently. They show how much time we spend online on our mobile phones, and convey two key messages:

  • We are now spending more than double the time online on our phones than we did 4 years ago;
  • Younger segments spend around seven times more time online than their older counterparts.


These findings, while sobering, may not be entirely surprising.


Out of curiosity, I decided to check my own mobile internet usage. It turns out that, in the last 24 hours, I used about 102 minutes, which is bang on the national average, though double the average for my age. And, shockingly, the bulk of this time was spent on Twitter. During this period, I did spend a lot of time waiting for other people, and I am aware that I used Twitter to kill time. So, my usage of Twitter on this particular day may be a bit higher than usual. But, nonetheless, both the total time and the share of time per application came as a bit of a shock to me!

phone usage


So, here is my challenge to you:

  • Estimate how much time you spend online on your phone.
  • Guess which are the top applications that you use, and what proportion of your time your spend on them.
  • Then, check your actual usage. On iOS you do this via Settings > battery (then press on the ‘clock symbol’ to see actual times).
  • Let me know what you find.


On a side note, these graphs were based on respondents’ perceptions (i.e., a question about their daily usage), rather than actual phone data. So, take these data with a pinch of salt.

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