How many times a day do you check your cellphone? An April survey found that Americans check their phones 262 times a day on average. That’s once every 5.5 minutes, and it’s up from 96 times a day in November 2019.
I’m guilty. My phone is almost always on me. Not only is it my personal connection to faraway friends and family, it’s my personal workout trainer and tracker and it’s a work tool. I use it for email, calls, texts and social media, in addition to recording and transcribing interviews, reading news from national outlets, watching TV and even playing video games. It’s even my work camera for most assignments. Suffice it to say, my cellphones have their work cut out for them.
I picked it up just now to see usage analytics. In the past two weeks, my phone has received anywhere between 272 and 535 notifications per day. Although I don’t consider myself a heavy Snapchat user, it turns out that app sends me the most notifications most days. It makes sense, though, because I use it to talk with gaming friends, workout buddies, other friends and some family. Snapchat also sends two notifications per incoming text — one that says the person is typing and another when the message is received. It adds up.
The second place app depends on the day and on how much I talk to Google Assistant or how many times those I follow on Twitter tweeted. Gmail is in the top five. I expected that given I have two work email accounts and my personal account on there. My texting apps, primarily Signal or Facebook Messenger, often are in the top five. Signal is my primary means of communication with my mother, sisters and co-workers. My wife uses Messenger more.
After that, most apps on my phone send 17 or fewer notifications per day. Google Play Store tends to lead that pack, followed by Facebook at about 10 notifications a day, then YouTube Music, New York Times, Associated Press and finally, near the bottom, Drupe. That’s my phone dialer, which hilariously means the thing I do least with my phone is make phone calls.
I find that funny because I remember a time when the house phone was basically connected to the side of my head. My high school crush and I would spend hours on the phone with each other every day after school, and there were times we talked so long into the night we fell asleep on the phone. I woke her up by shouting into the phone more times than I’d like to admit.
I’d also like to disavow my screen time. My average screen time is about seven hours a day, of which more than an hour is my afternoon workouts. The app I use keeps the screen on, and that adds up when you’re lifting weights for more than an hour. I’m also working on earning certifications for personal training and nutrition coaching, and all my studies happen on Chrome on my phone. After that, the apps using the most screen time are TikTok, Disney+ or Hulu, depending on which one I watch for less than an hour a day, and then most apps get only 20 minutes or less a day. Those include Google News, Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, Google Fit, Google Docs and Snapchat, among others.
Some people have become so connected to their phone, they actually have panic attacks when they don’t have it with them. I don’t, fortunately. If I leave my phone, it’s a mild inconvenience to me at most. I guess that’s a benefit of having grown up in a pre-smartphone era.
Still, it wouldn’t hurt for me to check out settings in my phone meant to help limit usage. Perhaps the most useful will be the setting controlling how apps notify me. Maybe your phone has those settings, too. You might want to find out when you see your own usage stats.