Will Worries About Phone Overuse Hurt Apple?

Print Email

More than half (54%) of U.S. teens say they use their smartphones too much. More than a third (36%) of parents say the same thing about their own smartphone use.

At the same time, more than half of teens (52%) say they have tried to cut back on the amount of time they use their phones, 57% say they’ve cut the time they spend on social media, and 58% say they don’t spend as much time playing video games.

The data were reported Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 743 U.S. teens (ages 13 to 17) and 1,058 U.S. parents of at least one teen that age.

One remarkable fact to begin with: 95% of American teens either own or have access to a smartphone, according to a May Pew Research survey. The youngest of these kids would have been about two years old when Apple released the first iPhone; the oldest around seven.

Essentially none of these kids has ever known a world without smartphones. Why would they ever give them up? Nearly half (45%) of all teens in the survey said they are online almost constantly, and about three-quarters (72%) said they check their phones for messages or notifications as soon as they wake up in the morning. Roughly 40% said that they feel anxious if they don’t have their phones with them.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook has admitted that he spends too much time on his iPhone, and recent versions of iOS include software intended to track their phone usage. Google and Facebook have introduced similar features. These tools still leave it up to users to put down their phones.

Unless and until Apple or some other company comes up with a device that connects teens (and their parents) to one another better than smartphones, virtually every kid and every parent in the United States will have one. Apple’s cash cow is unlikely to be underfed in the U.S. pastures of plenty.

Visit the Pew Research website for more details from the survey and a full description of the methodology.

I'm interested in the Newsletter