Smartphones have become the central social, communication, and information tool for growing numbers of younger Americans, according to a study conducted by IDC for Facebook.
Among smartphone owners age 18-44, making phone calls accounts for only 16% of the total time spent with their devices, whereas the remaining 84% of time is spent texting and interacting with email and social networks.
Below, additional findings from the report titled "Always Connected: How Smartphones and Social Keep Us Engaged," sponsored by Facebook, which studied how 7,500 smartphones owners age 18-44 used their devices over the course of one week in March 2013.
Top Applications and Activities
Across 10 popular applications and smartphone activities, email (78%) is the most popular among smartphone users age 18-44, followed by browsing the Web (73%), and accessing Facebook (70%).
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of smartphone users age 18-44 view maps and directions via their device, 60% play games, 59% conduct general search, 53% share or post photos, and 46% conduct local search.
Smartphones Day and Night
Smartphones are now a constant in people’s lives. Among smartphone owners age 18-44:
- 79% have their phone on or near them for all but up to 2 hours of their waking day.
- 62% reach for their smartphone immediately after waking up, while 79% do so within 15 minutes of waking up.
- 25% say they can't recall the last time their smartphone wasn't next to them.
Smartphones (via social apps) play an important role for people when they're out socializing.
For instance, when smartphone owners go out to the movies, 50% use their device to post a status update to Facebook, 13% post to Twitter via mobile, and 4% post to LinkedIn with their device.
Similarly, when smartphone owners go out for drinks or dinner, 49% post to Facebook via mobile, 13% post to Twitter, and 4% post to LinkedIn.
Connecting With Facebook via Smartphone
Among smartphone owners age 18-44, 70% access Facebook via their device, and 61% do so every day.
Among those 70%, some 82% read their news feed and 49% post comments or respond to others—the two most popular activities.
However, beyond communication, Facebook is driving engagement via games and application discovery: 16% of mobile Facebook users access the site to play games, and 7% do so to discover mobile apps.
Mobile Facebook behaviors vary by gender and age, IDC found:
- Men are 75% more likely than women to seek out applications on Facebook.
- Smartphone owners age 18-24 are 2 times more likely than those age 40-44 to seek out applications on Facebook.
- Smartphone owners age 30-34 and those age 40-44 are most likely to play games on Facebook.
Time Spent Using Smartphones
On average, smartphone owners age 18-44 spend 132 minutes each day using their device. Of that total, Facebook accounts for 25%—roughly 33 minutes.
Of that 33 minutes spent connecting with Facebook via mobile, 16 minutes are spent browsing news feed, nearly 10 minutes messaging, and just over 6 posting status updates and photos.
Notably, engagement over the weekend is twice as heavy, highlighting critical mobile devices and applications are to users’ most important social relationships.
How People Feel When They Connect
People often feel excited or curious when they post or check in to social media sites:
- 34% of smartphone owners say they feel "excited" when they post a photo on Instagram, and 27% feel excited while posting LinkedIn updates, and 26% feel so when they DM via Twitter.
- 24% of smartphone owners say they feel "curiosity" when they check Facebook feed, and 27% feel curiosity when they check Twitter, and 26% feel so when they check Instagram.
Overall, some 155.1 million people owned a smartphone in 2012—roughly 49% of the US population. That number is projected to reach 181.4 million by the end of 2013 and then reach 222.4 million by 2017 (67.8% of the US population), the study found.
About the data: IDC conducted an online survey of 1,000+ iOS and Android smartphone owners age 18-44 in the US each day for 1 week (Friday-Thursday) in March 2013, for a total number of respondents of 7,446. During Tuesday through Thursday, users age 18-24 were underrepresented. As such, the data were weighted by age and operating system to ensure accurate representation of the installed base of smartphones.
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