Study: You’ll Likely Waste 9 Years of Your Life Staring at Smartphones

November 14, 2020 Topic: Technology Blog Brand: Techland Tags: SmartphonesScreen TimeHealthScienceIPhoneTechnology

Study: You’ll Likely Waste 9 Years of Your Life Staring at Smartphones

Maybe you don’t want that new iPhone 12 after all?


The average American will likely spend roughly nine years looking at their smartphone screen, according to a new study conducted by the mobile comparison site WhistleOut.

Of the one thousand individuals who took part in the survey, 166 were baby boomers (born 1946–1964), 270 were Generation X (born 1965–1980), and 449 were millennials (born 1981–1996). The remaining respondents were born outside these age ranges.


Not surprisingly, millennials log the most amount of time on their smartphones—which came out to 3.7 hours per day. Gen Xers spend approximately three hours a day, while boomers registered 2.5 hours.

For a better perspective, the figures work out to about fifty-six days each year for millennials, compared to thirty-nine days per year for boomers.

According to the study, the average person spends somewhere in the ballpark of 76,500 hours on their smartphones over the course of their lifetime—which works out to exactly 8.74 years of your life.

As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has kept many people confined to their respective homes, many are naturally spending more time on their phones and laptops for education, shopping, and work. Such a lifestyle likely means that minutes spent staring at smartphone screens will continue to trend higher.

For Emily Brandl, of Burnsville, Minnesota, she admitted that she spends large chunks of her day on sites like Etsy and Pinterest, especially when she gets a temporary respite from taking care of her two young children.

“It has really just become a habit to scroll through my favorite sites when I’m watching my kids play,” she told The National Interest. “I really don’t think twice about it.”

Brandl, however, would like to set a good example for her children as they grow older. She has already outlawed all electronic devices from the kitchen table and after nine o’clock in the evening.

“Suppers and evenings should be for family time and I don’t want everyone busy doing something else,” she said.

Michael Hokenson, who attends community college in Iowa, said he probably spends about four hours on his phone a day. Much of the screen time is dedicated to staying connected with his girlfriend.

“Because of the pandemic, I really can’t see my girlfriend and friends that often anymore, so talking to them through my smartphone is the next best option,” he told TNI. “Cutting back on screen time would be like cutting them off in a way.”

It appears that Hokenson is not alone. According to respondents from a June GlobalWebIndex report, smartphone and laptop usage have surged since the start of the pandemic—45 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

In another poll in July, 59 percent of adults admitted to spending more time on their computers and smartphones, and 55 percent said that they now watch more television.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.