I was eating at a local breakfast joint near my house with my dad and I noticed something around me that I’m sure everyone notices too at some point during their time at a restaurant.
Everyone seemed to be on their phones. And this seemingly common realization influenced me to find out how often people spend time on their iPhones.
So what is the average screen time on iPhone? People spend on average 4 to 6 hours per day on their phones. The average screen time of 4 to 6 hours daily seems to be consistent among all ages. This number depends on factors such as number of check ins, notifications, downtime, personalization, and purpose of use.
It is important to note how long the average user spends time on their phones daily, and equally as important to look into what the impact of these numbers are based on lifestyle and intentions.
Let’s get right in to 5 factors to consider that can impact average screen time.
The Number of Check Ins Can Increase Phone Usage
It is normal nowadays to see people continuously using their smartphones. Checking out a crowdsourced survey by the Chicago Tribune’s website I found that almost half of iPhone users that took the survey use their phones for more than 4 hours every day.
But one thing to consider that is not as noticeable is the amount of times that we pick up our screens.
This is also known as a “check in”, or the time a person picks up the phone and touches it to activate the screen.
As more and more apps are released into the market, along with the increasing technology advances with smartphones like storage and processing speed, check ins also increase as well.
As check ins increase, the need to check phones also increases since by human nature people form habits based on routine action.
With the launch of iOS 12, Apple released a new Screen Time app that tracks not only the amount of time a person has used their iPhone throughout the day, but also how many times they have picked it up and checked it. Google also has an app called Digital Wellness that does the same job.
It is not uncommon at all to see average check-ins rake in over 200 times per day, however, that figure keeps rising over time.
Older iPhones used to only handle a handful of apps and only came with a single home screen. Today, iPhones operate with multiple home screens that can hold hundreds of apps. I wrote an article here that talks about how to organize apps into folders on the iPhone so that it doesn’t clutter several home screens.
The increase in technological capabilities of modern smartphones has led to a gain in the number of check ins, and thus, the total average time spent on-screen.
Constant Notifications Attract Attention
The large storage capabilities and swift processing speeds of today’s phones have enabled people to use hundreds of apps at the touch of a screen. But with each new app that is installed comes the potential of new notifications that light up users phones.
This is another factor to be mindful of and can consume an entire day of usage without any notice.
Just the other day I was about to go to sleep. I shut my eyes and started clearing my mind from everything so that I could finally rest. All of a sudden my phone buzzes and lights up… this is what the notification read.
Light to Moderate Rain Possibility in Your Area in 15 Minutes– My iPhone, 2019
Thanks iPhone. I was jolted back awake and of course I checked what the notification said in case it was important, and so ups the screen time tally.
But that’s the thing. The more apps that require notifications to be pushed to users smartphones, the more difficult it will be to decipher the importance of each notification event.
One tip to combat the amount of times our phones buzz is to turn off notifications on any given app or set it so that the notification lights up the screen but is muted.
In order to change notification settings on iPhone go into Settings > Notifications and then choose from the list of apps which you want to modify. You can then pick and toggle certain notification features like alert style, sounds, and badges.
Having Downtime Can Lead to Picking It Up
Busy work can keep the mind busy, but when there is free time the mind may still want to be busy even though it’s time to relax.
Having extra free time can naturally influence people to reach for their phones just to see what is going on in the world. This is also referred to as FOMO (“Fear Of Missing Out”).
By design modern smartphone applications constantly notify people of the latest updates, such as in local news or in their friends’ and families’ personal lives.
However, even when there aren’t any notifications that are pushed to the smartphone, it is increasingly common to see FOMO start setting in, especially when it comes during downtime.
Social media applications in particular are built so that they never end with an infinity scrolling feature. By having this feature users are not noticing how long they are spending on these apps, and in many cases, are the culprits that ultimately contribute to longer average daily screen times.
What’s one tip to reduce iPhone screen usage during downtime?
Be intentional about it. If you find that things aren’t getting done due to screen time, set aside a block of time that the phone can be put away and not checked on while other activities are done, like book reading, conversation, or gardening.
That way a routine will be set so that it can eventually become a healthy habit.
Personalization Through Social Media and News
I mentioned how social media apps are structured in a way that the scrolling feature never ends, and how this form of infinity scrolling can lead people to forget how long they’ve been using it for.
But another factor to consider when it comes to social media and news apps in particular is the level of personalization that the average Android or iPhone user can contribute and develop.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning has enabled technology companies and software developers to not only track the time usage of devices, but to also target people with personally relevant information that relates to them best.
As smartphones gain and improve upon this intelligence about its users, the more it can relate to the connections of people on a deeper, private level.
Treating the smartphone and its apps as a personal companion drives people to not only check their devices more often, but to also stay on them longer so that they can continually foster that personal relationship.
A Wide Range of Purposes For Use
iPhones can do pretty much anything these days, like taking pictures, playing games, and signing important documents through email.
And it also spans across personal and professional lives. The number of meaningful uses for smartphones has gone up dramatically with the inclusion of business application. It is becoming more common to see people using their smartphones not just for personal use, but for business and job use as well.
This wider range of useful purposes adds to the average daily screen time on iPhones and will surely increase as time goes on.
The intelligence of smartphones has also given rise to the launch of the gig economy, opportunities where anybody can pick up their smartphone and at the tap of a screen deliver groceries to somebody’s door or drive people to and from their destinations.
Lifestyles of all kinds now benefit from the use of the smartphone, like placing it on an adapter and using it as an extreme sports action camera, jamming on to the next rock album with its recording software, or recording a voice memo for an important meeting.
It is no longer that the smartphone is purely a professional or recreational object, rather it has transcended life’s boundaries to become synonymous with people along all activities of the day.
As smartphones become more synonymous with people, the longer average screen times will go on.
Treating the iPhone as a support tool and not a replacement over crucial human needs can allow people to view the increase in average screen time as an overall benefit, while at the same time being mindful on how to moderate its negative effects.