February 6, 2017 Last Updated 8:21 am

Smartphones: A Perpetual Connection or Lifeline?

Guest column: ReportLinker survey examines American smartphone habits, finds the devices ‘now the fabric of daily life’ though new ways to recycle or find new uses for these devices are being demanded by consumers

Before Steve Jobs debuted the iPhone, there was the PalmPilot.  The uneventful PDA that could not be a flashlight and hail a cab at the same time.  There was no interconnectedness with others through the device.  However, smartphones have allowed anyone to communicate with others outside of who is around them.  There is no longer a need to talk…just text.  There is no longer a need to call…just email.  There is no longer a need to state an opinion in a conversation at the dinner table…just post it. With every newly added feature to stay connected to the world, people are becoming less social with each other.

Just how connected are Americans to their smartphones?  A recent ReportLinker survey of showed that almost half of the respondents (46%) check their smartphones as soon as they wake up and while they are still in bed.  Among Millennials, the percentage is higher (66%) who check it before getting out of bed and 28% who check it over breakfast.

What do Americans view on their phones first?  The ReportLinker survey showed that more than 30% check their email first and 30% check their social media apps. However, when using their phone, most (37%) still use their phone for making a phone call versus texting (26%).  Among the most popular social media apps visited on their phones were the Big 3:  Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

The survey also showed the Americans do show more restraint with using their phones while at work.  Fifty-six (56%) of respondents reported limiting personal smartphone use while at work. However, these lines of personal versus business use of a phone are becoming more blurred as the highly-connected Millennials age through the workforce.  Sixty-six (66%) of Millennials confessed to using their smartphones at work for personal matters.

The fact is that smartphones are a part of the fabric of daily life.  Three-quarters of all respondents and 83% of Millennials reported keeping their smartphones active both day and night Most only disconnect from their devices while sleeping. More than half reported that their last check is right before bed.  Disconnecting overnight is even harder for some.  Ten percent (10%) reported waking up in the middle of the night and checking their devices.

Added features are increasingly becoming alluring to users.  Sixty percent (60%) of respondents say their smartphones have voice capabilities and 50% reported using this feature. The type of smartphone also affects the features being used.  Among the 37% of those who reported owning an iPhone, 84% of users reported being aware of Apple’s Siri.  However, among the 33% who reported using a Samsung, 45% were aware of the voice capabilities.  Among the top usages for voice commands were searching the internet, texting, dialing and calendar management.

The drive to stay up-to-date with emails and notifications seems to be related to the drive to stay up-to-date with technology. Forty-three (43%) of owners say they upgrade to a newer model every year and most do not keep their phones beyond 2 years.

While there is apparently not an issue with getting consumers to upgrade to newer models, there is a great concern with disposing of the old phones.  More than a third of respondents reported keeping their old phones. Almost 25% give their phones away to relatives or friends and only 18% use retailers recycling programs.

It is apparent the smartphones are now the fabric of daily life.  However, new solutions are desired to efficiently recycle or find new uses for these devices as long as users prefer to continually upgrade their technology.

Melina Druga is an American journalist and author.

Note: See more infographics from this study here.

Photo: 001 by Carlos Poleo used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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