The best thing about the smartphone, according to "The Best (and Worst) of Mobile Connectivity" survey from think tank Pew Research Center, is the convenience and connectivity it provides — although some cite this as a negative. Clearly, we have a love/hate relationship with our mobile devices and there does not seem to be much in between the extremes.
In theory, and what we we are always making the case for in the enterprise, mobile devices make our lives easier and more productive. But is this a false sense of efficiency? There are a few recent studies out there, but the conclusion is the same. The problem is, we simply can't control ourselves. Is it really necessary to take our phones to the bathroom?
Forty-four percent of respondents to the Pew survey have slept with their phones next to their beds because they wanted to make sure they didn't miss any calls, text messages or other updates during the night. This is echoed and even higher in the "Mobile Mindset Study," from Lookout Mobile Security, where 54% "check their phones while lying in bed: before they go to sleep, after they wake up, even in the middle of the night."
In addition, 67% of Pew respondents say that they find themselves checking their cell phones for messages, alerts or calls — even though they didn't notice their phone ringing or vibrating; 18% say that they do this "frequently" and 21% do so "occasionally," while 28% say that it only happens "every once in a while." Sixty percent of those responding to the Mobile Mindset Study admit they don't go an hour without checking their phones.
Harris Interactive, in a survey for Telenav, discovered that 65% of smartphone owners take their phones to the bathroom with them. Men, 70%, are more likely to do so than women, 59%.
And, while the Harris survey specified the task being performed in the bathroom — with 47% texting, 46% surfing the web and 34% emailing — the Mobile Mindset Study got specific about the location, as 40% confessed to checking their phones while actually on the toilet.
Another Harris survey conducted for Radivision, found that 13% had video-conferenced on their phones for work while in the bathroom. It's no wonder then, the type of crud found often found on cell phones.
You Didn't Get Back to Me
Despite all this time spent using, checking or otherwise interacting with their phones any time and everywhere, 39% of users in the Pew survey reported that they still get complaints of not responding quickly enough to text messages and voicemail messages.
While not included in the study, Mobile Mindset respondents probably encountered similar complaints, which is what causes them to "break the rules of etiquette to stay connected," with 30% checking phones during a meal with others, 24% while driving and 9% during religious services. Pew Research showed that 30% text while driving.
"Other" People's Habits
Naturally, the mobile rules we break don't apply to ourselves, but we get very annoyed at others; 74% of Pew respondents said that they witness "others" using their phone in a loud or annoying manner in public "frequently" or "occasionally."
Somehow, only 6% of those same people say that they themselves have drawn criticism or dirty looks from someone else because of the way they were using their phones in public.
In addition, we have seen in two surveys the prevalence of texting while driving, but Harris reported that 9 out of 10 respondents get upset when they see "other" drivers texting.
Yes, it actually has a name. The fear of being without a cell phone is called nomophobia. It's not officially recognized as a mental illness, but this fear can lead to addiction, and scientific research has indicated that there are molecular-genetic connections to Internet addiction – the need to be connected all the time.
The Mobile Mindset study showed that 94% of smartphone owners are concerned about losing their phones. There are many reasons for this — cost and hassle, exposure of personal data and account info and discovery of inappropriate photos or messages — but enterprises beware, the loss of corporate didn't rank.
It's now second nature to drop everything you are doing, from wherever you are doing it, to respond to a message on your smartphone. But the fact is, in order to be truly productive, we do need to disconnect regularly.
We know that overuse of mobile devices can impair vision, lead to sleep loss and even cause depression. Here's a start. Stop doing anything on your phone from the bathroom. Your coworkers will appreciate it.