MobileBeyond Research, a subsidiary of this blog’s parent company, has recently discovered that mobile phone staring in malls, at school, while eating lunch—yes, even during corporate boardroom meetings–is increasing rapidly.
Mobile phone users spend most phone hours each week staring blankly at their phone screens.
Mobile Phone Staring Study
MB researchers loaded 50 mobile applications and browsers on Android and iOS phones. For one week, researchers followed 100 smartphone users from early morning until late evening, while observing smartphone behaviors of three user types: “Mobile Intensives,” coined by Joe Liuzzo, the famed consumer behavior analyst who’s appeared three times in MobileBeyond podcasts, “mobile moderates” and “mobile casuals.”
The intensives presented the greatest challenge since they continually jumped from apps to websites, texted quickly and rarely wrote emails that were readable. Intensives also had the highest level of multitasking among the three. MB researchers found it easier to monitor moderates than intensives, but harder than casuals, who used their phones infrequently and at odd hours.
MB researchers divided the 100 users into the three mobile users: those who can’t put their phones down, others who use their devices half of their waking hours and the least interested in mobile, the moderates, who would just as well watch Judge Judy on TV than play with their phones.
Researchers defined “staring” as users “looking at their phone screens without doing or reading anything.” This is similar to staring at a wall in your doctor’s office waiting to be called, what one researcher called “mindless ocular syndrome” (MOS).
Researchers first observed this behavior in the 1970’s watching children and parents staring blankly at television screens. Studies revealed that “TV staring” caused participants to forget everything they watched, including TV commercials, greatly distressing the advertising industry.
Using stopwatches, MB researchers calculated the time spent on each mobile activity for a week. This includes periods of “brain pauses” or mobile staring. Researchers attached electrodes to each participant’s prefrontal cortex to measure brain activity.
Below is the number of hours spent on each phone activity vs. mobile staring. (Average calculations are cumulative for phone use and staring.
- Changing phone settings = 5.2 hours
- Staring blankly at screens after making changes = 2.4 hours
- Playing mobile games = 4.8 hours
- Stopping with no cognitive activity while playing games = 1.3 hours
- Texting. Time spent sending and receiving texts = 8.6 hours
- Pausing between texts without brain activity = 3.4 hours
- Selecting and listening to music = 4.3 hours
- Staring at phone screens without doing anything = 1.4 hours
- Taking and viewing phone camera photos = 3.2 hours
- Eyes focusing on camera controls without taking any action = 1.3 hours
- All social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) = 5.4 hours
- Mindlessly glaring at phone screens with low prefrontal cortex activity = 1.1 hours
Total Mobile Activity Hours = 31.5 Hours
Total Mobile Phone Staring = 10.9 Hours
MB Researchers noted that in a typical week, mobile phone staring averaged 10.9 hours, significantly higher than texting, one of the most popular phone activities. Researchers said that all phone users should watch their total mobile phone staring time to protect their eyes from strain and their brains from under stimulation.
Further Reading about Mobile Phone Staring:
“Staring at your cell phone waiting for a message” (Facebook)
“When You’re with Someone Who Keeps Staring at Their Cell Phone”
This mobile phone staring research summary averages responses of the three mobile groups. To obtain specific data to each mobile behavior type, please submit $4,399 to MobileBeyond’s PayPal account (info [at] MobileBeyond.net)