Mobile officially tops TV as American’s biggest time waster

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It’s been coming a long time, but Americans now spend more hours a day on our phones and tablets than we do watching TVs.
Photo: Apple

US adults spend more time on their phones and tablets than watching traditional televisions. While phone use has been on the rise for years even as TV use dropped, the most recent annual survey done by eMarketer is the first in which mobile devices came out on top.

Only a few years ago, TV use was significantly ahead of phones and tablets. Not any more.

“We’ve expected that mobile would overtake TV for a while, but seeing it happen is still surprising,” said Yoram Wurmser, eMarketer principal analyst, in a statement. “As recently as 2014, the average US adult watched nearly 2 hours more TV than they spent on their phones.”

Phone and tablet use exceeds traditional TVs
Phone and tablet use now exceeds that of traditional TVs for the first time.
Photo: eMarketer

On average, American adults spend 2 hours 55 minutes on smartphones, a 9-minute increase from last year. They’ll use tablets for 1 hour 8 minutes, according to this survey, which was conducted in April.

Average time on TVs dropped to 3 hours 35 minutes, a year-over-year decline of 9 minutes.

What smartphone users are doing

Mobile applications make up the lion’s share of time spent on smartphones, according to
eMarketer. Apps make up 2 hours 57 minutes, compared to just 26 minutes in a web browser.

In terms of time spent, people are most often listening to digital audio, followed by social networking.