What 95 Minutes of Phone Time a Day Does to Us

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Some numbers to put your personal cell phone use in context.

Drumroll, please: It's time to release some baseline Bored and Brilliant data. (If you missed our kickoff episode, listen to The Case for Boredom here).

To contextualize our numbers on this week's podcast, we've got Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, scientific director of the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a neuroscientist and human development psychologist at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. They explain how our findings compare to the broader scientific research landscape. 

Here's a hint at what we hear in the podcast:

Baseline stats

For the Bored and Brilliant participants using our partner Moment and BreakFree apps — and there are now more than 4,600 of you — these are the averages so far:

  • Average minutes per day: between 90 to 100
  • Average screen unlocks per day: between 40 to 50 times

That means you’re checking your phone about 2 to 3 times every waking hour. For comparison, the average non-Bored and Brilliant Moment user spends around 64 minutes on his phone per day. So our baseline is pretty high. 

You already knew this. Almost 84 percent of our participant survey respondents say they spend "too much time" or "way too much time" on their phones:


According to Kaufman and Immordino, it's not surprising that the subset of people signed up for our project feels that way. Here's what we know about the 1,117 of you who took our survey:

  • 75 percent are female.
  • The average age is 36 years old.  
  • Half are married.
  • About 40 percent have kids.
  • 57 percent live what they would describe as an urban environment; 34 percent live in the suburbs.
  • Our participants tend to live in the biggest U.S. cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco), but we have people in almost every state and a number of countries around the world (Australia, the U.K. Germany, Israel, China, Japan, Switzerland, and more).


Anecdotally, we've heard from a lot of people with a creative bent, interested in writing books and screenplays and working on other big projects. One of the more striking takeaways from our survey? Respondents really, really want more time to just think:

Phone Behavior Miscellany 

It's those pesky pickups! 

  • About 40 percent of respondents say the phone is adding stress to their lives.

  • Of the people who say they spend "way too much time on their phone," 20 percent report the place they keep their phones is "in their hand." As opposed to, say, their pocket.

  • Among the minority of respondents in our group who say they spend "just the right amount of time" on their phones, less than 1 percent say they keep their phone in their hand. Significantly more of these happy phone users are keeping their phones in their bags—out of sight, out of mind.
  • The most popular place for women to keep their phones was on their desks (47 percent). They're doing this more than men, who are keeping their phones in their pocket (68 percent).

Loving these numbers, but want some more context? Click play on the audio player at the top of this post for the full podcast audio with more analysis and "intriguing correlations." If you know someone who could use a little boredom and brilliance in their lives, there's still timeget them on board (bored?) before challenges start Monday! 

You can sign up here:

We'll issue all of our challenges via mini-podcasts starting Feb. 2. To hear them, subscribe on iTunesStitcherTuneInI Heart Radio, or anywhere else using our RSS feed