The average person checks their phone 57 times a day. Not me
Conor Pope tracks his smartphone usage for 24 hours to find out how he measures up
'Before bed, I tally up the number of times I have used my phone today: 167.'
This week a Deloitte survey on smartphone usage claimed the average Irish person pick up our devices an average of 57 times daily, significantly more than the EU average. “Well, that’s ridiculous,” I thought. “Only a crazy person would need to check their phone every 15 minutes of the waking day.”
But to be sure, I decide to track my usage for 24 hours.
2.03am: My phone lights up like a supernova, silently screaming for attention. I ignore it. It lights up again. “Two alerts in a minute,” I think. “Must be something important.” I stare groggily at the screen. It tells me the White House has confirmed Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and someone/thing called Coffeedog likes an Instagram picture I posted of a hipster Stoneybatter coffee shop.
2:44am: I’ve just fallen back asleep when my phone rouses me to say Johnny Hallyday is dead. I have only the vaguest idea who he is, but while awake I have a quick look at Twitter. Someone is giving out about me. I put my phone face down and sleep.
6:55am: My phone tells me it’s time to get up. Before I get out of bed I check the main stories on the Irish Times, have a quick look at Twitter and scan the profile of Coffeedog on Instagram. There are no pictures of dogs drinking coffee.
7.05am: For reasons I still don’t really understand, I’m playing some class of online Scrabble with former Labour Party Svengali and current head of Barnardos Fergus Finlay. While making breakfasts and school lunches, I put down “stolen” for 16 points. It’s nowhere near good enough to close the gap, and he’s going to trounce me. Again.
7:10am: I check my emails. Three people I don’t know want to connect on LinkedIn. A deal site is offering discounted teeth whitening and STI testing, five Irish Times readers tell me of torment at the hands of retailers, and a rebel leader in Aleppo has found a suitcase full of US dollars and thinks I might help him get it out of Syria.
7:32am: Since the start of the season to be jolly, a mysterious Elf has been moving about my house in the dead of night. My little girl finds Cookie’s latest hiding place – near the top of the Christmas Tree. I reach for my phone to take a pic of it.
7:34am: I check my mails again. More spam and a couple of press releases. It’s not yet dawn, and my battery is down to 72 per cent. I plug it in to recharge before having a shower.
8:45am: I pat my coat pockets furiously. Then my jeans. I repeat the process. Twice more. “”F***”, I shriek. In the mad dash to get two little girls to school and two adults to work on time, I’ve left my phone charging by the bed. I break the news to my considerably better and more together half that we have to go home. The news is not entirely welcomed.
8.55am: I race up the stairs and, before going back to the car, have a quick look to see if I have missed anything on Twitter. No.
9:25am: I hop out of the car and before taking my first step towards the office the phone is in my hand. I check Facebook – someone I don’t know is going to an event I don’t care about. I check Twitter to see if the person who was cross with me in the dead of night is also cross with lots of other people.
Then, despite the fact that I am seconds away from picking up a physical Irish Times, I check the website again then have a quick look at the Indo online (but don’t tell them that.) It’s only after I’ve crossed three lanes of slow-moving traffic that I realise I’ve done so with my head lost in my screen. Ashamed at having breached so much of the Safe Cross Code, I put the phone away.
9:27am: There is a seagull on O’Connell Bridge! A cross one. I fish my phone out of my pocket but before I can take the snap, the bird has taken fright and flight. While I have it out, I check Twitter again. While crossing another road.
9:30am: In the office I unshackle myself from my phone. For seven minutes. A friend texts a reminder of plans we have for coffee. They’re plans I’d completely forgotten. I text back to cancel.
9:32am: I start working. The Features Editor calls to discuss this article.
9:38am: I start working again.
10:25am: I manage 45 entire minutes before realising I haven’t checked my Fantasy Football app for days. I tweak my team, curse an old friend called Donnchadh for playing “qat” for 26 points. Like qat is a word.
With nothing else to do in the back of a taxi I drain my battery reading life-enhancing New Yorker articles. Only joking, I scroll through Instagram
11am: My bank texts me. That prompts me to check my balance. That makes me sad.
11:05am: I text my considerably better and more together half to let her know I’ve forgotten my lunch. I mourn the amazing soup that is now sitting on a kitchen countertop and not in the office fridge. She texts sympathy in return, if a crying laughing emoji counts as sympathy.
12:30pm: With a deadline looming, I’ve left my phone almost for a 90 minutes. Well, I picked it up only four times – once when I get a call from South Sudan and thrice because Instagram tells me people are live and streaming things unlikely to be of interest to me.
2.05am: As I mournfully eat a sweaty sandwich decanted from a plastic coffin, I distract myself from thoughts of soup by trawling the web. I scan the headlines on the New York Times and check in with Donald. He has tweeted the four words:“MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” again. Lord knows why. I do a tally and reckon I’ve already been on my phone 68 times already. It’s great to be above average.
2:30pm: I answer three calls in quick succession. And send five text messages.
3pm: News breaks that The Irish Times has bought the Landmark group which owns the Irish Examiner. My phone lights up. Well, my considerably better and more together half texts to see if there’s a chance I’ll be transferred. She tells me not to forget my phone if I am.
3:03pm: I see what Twitter thinks of the Landmark move. The news is trending. Exciting. “Does that mean Examiner reporters will be banned from going on Newstalk,” asks one wag.
3:05pm: I scan Facebook to see what it thinks. It doesn’t care. I watch a video of cats wrestling.
3:25pm: My battery is nearly dead again. I blame the kittens. I plug the phone in and leave it alone. I have used it nearly 100 times.
4:30pm: It trills. A taxi company calls to say the cab due to pick me up right now to ferry me to TV3 for a turn on the Six O’Clock Show couch is late. “How late?” We have no idea. Great.
4:50pm: I get a text and a call from the driver telling me he’s outside.
4:51-5:55pm: With nothing else to do in the back of a taxi I drain my battery reading life-enhancing New Yorker articles. Only joking. I mindlessly scroll through my instagram feed, play more Scrabble, read dark conspiracy theories on Facebook and angry tweets about – and from – Donald Trump.
5:56pm: Seconds after arriving in TV3, my phone rings. It’s the taxi company. The cab that is to take me home has arrived 60 minutes early.
6:25pm: Having thought I had put my phone on silent I’m surprised when it rings in the studio. An angry taxi man leaves me a message. An angry TV producer glowers at me.
7pm-ish: In a tense taxi home, my phone dies.
8pm: Back in the game. While cooking dinner, I check Twitter, my emails and Instagram. Nothing is going on. I watch the telly.
11.05pm: Before bed, I check the paper, read some work emails, and tally up the number of times I have used my smartphone on this day. 167. “That’s not so smart,” I think to myself. “Tomorrow will be different.
2.01am: My phone lights up like a supernova and silently screams for attention.