Is Your Smartphone Making Life Worse

I love my iPhone and my iPad. I use them to listen to music, play games, text with my friends and family – in fact, I can freely admit that I will choose to text someone rather than make a phone call. It's quick, it’s easy, and it doesn't distract me from something else. Recently, I realized that I checked my phone before I walked out to go down to my car and once I got into the drivers' seat, I checked it again.

Why? Did I really think I was going to miss something that was that important in a time span of three minutes? No, I didn't, but I’m addicted to checking my phone.

Recent studies suggest that the average smartphone user checks their phone 150 times a day.

We use these kinds of devices for everything. We keep our lives organized in the calendar applications, read all of our books on screens, and we share messages and videos with friends and family right from the palms of our hands. It's great to live in an age where being able to talk to my brother while he was deployed was as simple as an internet connection, but our reliance on technology is not all fun and games.

Smartphones have recently been proven to cause insomnia. Harvard researchers published results on how our dependency on technology has crept to the bedroom and is now throwing off our body's "light-dark cycle", which is spurning an increase in insomnia. Head researcher, Charles A. Czeisler, reports that as we expose ourselves to more artificial lights we "dramatically changed the timing of our endogenous circadian rhythms."

Overexposure to devices that think for us have caused an interesting phenomenon dubbed by Psychology Today as "The Google Effect". Research from a 2011 study found that people are encouraged to think less as we have more access to search engines right in our hands. Have you ever watched a movie and thought "hey I know that guy" and then turned to Google to type in a long and vague question to see what pops up, rather than trying to recall his face in your memory bank? That is the Google Effect.

Your brain at rest can actually be one of your most creative and productive times. Research in the early 1990s showed that your brain never really stops, even when your body is at rest. A resting state allows your brain to entertain ideas that seem random in nature. In contrast, when you are focused on a detailed activity, your brain devotes most of its energy to the task at hand. I think that being constantly tired to a device limits the ability of our brains (at least my brain) to allow those random thoughts and ideas to flow.

It’s not just your brain and creativity that can suffer from overuse of your smartphone. An Auckland chiropractor reports a rise in cases of cervical kyphosis. The curvature of your spine at the neck is developed as baby during "tummy time" when you practice holding your head up. Cervical kyphosis is the straitening of the vertebrae at the base of your neck, and many medical professionals are cautioning cell phone users to the dangers of looking down all of the time.

That's not to say that smartphones don't do a lot of good for us and social networks. Studies have been conducted after disasters (like tornadoes) that give credit to social networks and text messages for helping to get messages to those in the paths of dangerous weather to seek shelter.

The development of applications for your phone range from games to technology that allows you to save money – like with the Nest learning thermostat or can even keep your medical information on hand in the event of something happening to you. Applications allow you to store your current medications, dosages, and even if you have an allergies. In the event of an emergency, EMTs or doctors can have quick access to your medical history so that they can best attend to you when you arrive at the emergency room.

Smartphones can enrich our lives but I think it's always important to remember that too much of a "good" thing can be bad. Change your habits by putting away your phone for thirty minutes to an hour when you get home and letting your brain "idle" or delete applications that you’re constantly checking.

Are you up to the challenge? (I don’t know if I am but I'm going to try.)

Cell Phone Statistics: Updated 2013

 2013 Cell Phone Statistics

New information has been released about how we used our cell phones, smartphones, and mobile devices in 2013. Some of the stats show a clear move among the average cell user towards it being their primary gaming, internet, and communication device. 

New Data From Pew Research

  • 97% of adults have a cell phone. (Up 4% from 2012)
  • Of these, 56% of those phones are considered "smart phones"
  • The cellular phone is the most quickly adopted technology in history. 
  • Cell phones are seen as key to actively participating in your community. 
  • 29% of users describe their phone as something they can't live without. 
  • 9% used their phone to contribute to charity. 
2013 Showed Growth in Mobile Marketing Importance

  • 34% of all users are "mobile only", meaning they use only their mobile devices and have no other computer or telephone. (Up 9% from 2012)
  • 41% of mobile users browse on their mobile devices for a product after seeing it on an ad on television. 
  • 80% of users will participate in e-commerce this year. 
  • 36% of smartphone users admit to "shopping around" on their phones while at a retail location, before committing to a purchase. 
This data is still forthcoming from the final quarter of 2013.  We will post a new update soon. 

2012 Cell Phone Statistics


As technology continues to improve, the use and saturation of cell phones and their users continues to change drastically. The increase over the last ten years has been incredible and the way we use our phones to stay connected and informed continues to change.

From Pew Internet

  • 87% of American adults own a cell phone, and 45% of those are smart phones.
  • Only 12% of adults age 65 and over have a smartphone.
  • 82% take pictures on their cell phones, up from 76% in 2010.
  • 29% check their bank account online, up from 18% in 2011.
  • 9% of adults have texted a charitable organization to make a donation.

CTIA Research Stats

  • 45% of businesses state wireless is essential to operations.
  • 2.27 trillion text messages were sent.
  • 1.1 trillion MB of data was used.
  • 28,641 cell phone towers were added across the US.

Mobile Usage Growth

25% of internet users are mobile only - meaning, they do not access the internet for browsing from any other device.

71% of smartphone users that see TV, press, or advertising that interests them will immediately do a mobile search.

The average American smartphone user spent nearly 30 minutes a day checking or updating social networks.

2011 Cell Phone Statistics
The way we use cell phones has changed drastically over the last year. Once upon a time, we used cell phones to make calls while we were away from our homes. Recent studies show that we may be migrating away from our primary use of the phone to more of a texting and mobile web device.

Pew Studies 2011

  • 53% of adults own a smartphone.
  • 13% of users surveyed pretended to be using their phone in order to avoid social interaction.
  • 42% of people have used their phone for entertainment when they are bored.
  • 51% of users used their cell phone at least once to get information.
  • 27% said they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phone.
  • 29% turn off their phones to take a break from their digital life at night.

Updated Statistics for 2009

I was sitting around the other day marveling about how popular cell phones have become. It’s amazing that in our culture we make ourselves available every minute of every day -- thank goodness for call display! Anyway, I did a quick Google search and stumbled upon an interesting article with a list of cell phone statistics that I thought was worth sharing.  

Here’s what I learned:

  • Cell Phone usage in the US has increased from 34 million to 203 million in the last ten years
  • There is an estimated two billion cell phones world-wide, which means about 4.5 billion people go without.
  • A 2004 MIT survey said that cell phones was ranked as the one invention that people hate the most, but can’t live without. It beat out the alarm clock and the television!
  • A 2005 University of Michigan study said that 83% said cell phones made life easier (choosing it over the internet).
  • A Let’s Talk (retail company) survey said that 38% of people thought it was ok to use a cell phone in the bathroom. (Other stats show cell phone use in restaurants, theaters, supermarkets and subways).
  • A telephia survey said that Americans average 13 talking hours a month – with the 18-24 age group averaging 22 hours.
  • A Sprint survey said that 2/3 people used their cell phone backlight to find something in the dark.

I wonder how many people would stop blogging to answer their cell phone?

Excuse me, I have call…

5 Ways to cut your cell bill - from ConsumerReports Magazine Jan 2008

Special Caller Deals
Cingular has roll-over minutes.  Most carriers allow free in network calls (like a Verizon to Verizon call).  Alltell and T-Mobile offers a select number of phone numbers which you can call for free.

Overage Charges
During months with higher than normal usage, increase your plan just for that month making sure you don't spend the .45 cents per minute for minutes that are over your plan.  Also make sure to regularly check your bills to determine if you need to increase or decrease your lines.  No sense in paying for more than you need.

Control Usage by Children
AT&T offers a limiting service which controls several aspects of the calling behavior.  From the web parents can limit the phone numbers dialed, duration of calls and more.

Pay Attention to All Charges
Getting a good deal on minutes is good, but make sure you consider all other charges.  Text messaging is a great feature but can add up very quickly.  The standard rate for one text message is 15 cents.  With Texting Plans, messaging can drop to only a penny per message.  Also make sure to check the rates for data and web access.

PrePaid Phone
If you barely use any minutes, and 300 minutes is an overkill for you, then a prepaid phone may be the best option.