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Report Confirms: Americans Are Obsessed With Their Smartphones

A new study by Deloitte confirms what anybody who has seen bowed heads at the dinner table, on crowded sidewalks or, heaven forbid, behind the steering wheel already knows.

No, they’re not in prayer; theirs is a god of a different sort, made of silicon chips and glass. Americans are indeed obsessed with their smartphones, and the global consultancy was able to quantify this love affair in its 2015 Global Mobile Consumer Survey.

The most glaring factoid: U.S. consumers look at their devices in the aggregate 8 billion times each day, and are increasingly doing so while engaged in other activities like watching television, shopping and even while talking to friends and family.

The study, now in its fifth year, uncovered many other interesting findings around American behavior, trends and general lifestyle shifts associated with the unprecedented usage of mobile devices today. Among them:

1. Consumers are more distracted than ever before.

This year’s survey results show unprecedented levels of multitasking while interacting with mobile devices, which has translated into consumers being more distracted than ever before:

*61 percent of American consumers indicate that they sometimes, if not often, use their smartphone while out shopping; 

*47 percent of consumers use their smartphones while talking to friends and family;

*more than one-third of all consumers use their smartphones predominately without the prompt of an incoming message or alert;

*contrary to common trending, those ages 25-34 report the most mobile phone use while watching TV “at least occasionally,” outpacing the expected younger demographic of ages 18-24; and

*text messages (31 percent) replaced checking emails (24 percent) as the first thing people do on their smartphones every day; in fact, emails experienced the largest year-over-year decline of any activity.

2. American consumers show no signs of switching off.

The increased screen time that comes with consumers becoming more and more attached to their mobile devices continues to spread across generations, both in terms of how quickly we take that first look, and how often we continue to check our phones thereafter. According to the survey:

*upon waking, 17 percent of smartphone owners check their phones immediately, up from 14 percent last year, while 43 percent do so within five minutes of rising, up from 39 percent a year ago;

*when it comes to bedtime, 13 percent of smartphone users look at their phone immediately before preparing to sleep, while 33 percent check their phones within five minutes before going to sleep;

*four percent of consumers in the U.S. look at their phones more than 200 times a day;

*nearly half (48 percent) of consumers check their phones up to 25 times per day; and

*97 percent of smartphone owners have used their phone at least once to take a photo and 74 percent to share. Interestingly, the most intense photo takers are either young (18 to 24) or female smartphone owners who take and share photos daily.

3.Mobile payments are on the rise.

The use of mobile devices to make in-store payments has nearly quadrupled over last year, from 5 percent in 2014 to 18 percent today, and the promise of future adoption is particularly high among the tech-savvy millennial:

*the 25-34 demographic is driving the majority of m-payment activity for in-store purchases at 36 percent; and

*the most popular uses of mobile payments are for public parking (19 percent), gas station purchases (18 percent), coffee shops and fast food dining (17 percent each).

At the same time, Deloitte considers m-payment “a large, untapped opportunity,” with half of consumers citing security concerns and 36 percent not seeing any benefits to using mobile phones for in-store payments.

“We believe that education of consumers on the benefits of advanced security features of some forms of m-payments technologies could yield additional growth opportunities for the sector,” said Craig Wigginton, Deloitte vice chairman and U.S telecommunications sector leader.

4. Consumer wellness is more holistic and seamlessly connected.

As wellness continues to transition from a passing trend toward a meaningful and permanent lifestyle, consumers are looking for ways to track, share and connect their fitness, health and diet information, the consultancy said. With the rapid adoption of fitness trackers, consumers are more inclined to purchase wearable devices such as fitness bands and smartwatches to support their health in a seamless and uninterrupted way. According to the report:

*ownership for fitness bands doubled year over year with approximately 10 percent of consumers owning a fitness band.

*of those who own fitness bands, 37 percent reported monitoring their fitness level daily while 27 percent reported monitoring their caloric intake and diet daily. These numbers jump to 66 percent for monitoring fitness and 47 percent for monitoring caloric intake when looked at weekly;

*while more consumers own fitness bands than smartwatches, smartwatches drive greater usage.  Today, 74 percent of consumers use their smartwatch on a weekly basis vs. 66 percent who use their fitness band weekly.