Putting it to the test: How much time are we really spending on our phones?


Yesenia Montenegro

Vivien Hagy is one of many teens who is trying to limit her screen time.

by Yesenia Montenegro , Editor

On average, teens use their phones for about nine hours a day. I see my friends on their phones all the time, and, even though I know better, I catch myself picking up my phone more often than I would like.

My phone is one of the biggest distractions while I’m doing homework or trying to study. Its is usually always near me, so I look at it every few minutes. Getting notifications and messages takes my mind off of my homework and I start thinking about all the things I’m seeing online. 

I use it in situations where I could be doing something more productive or could be talking to people, but I’m so used to using it all the time, that my phone is on way too much.

I decided to monitor the time I spent on my phone for a week and challenged four of my friends to do the same. iPhones allow you to see how much time is spent on your phone using the “Screen Time” feature on Settings. For seven days, we took a screenshot of our screen time at 10:00 PM or later, so we could see how much it was used during the day. This feature also shows what apps you spend the most time on and what your weekly average time is.  

“Tweet Tweet” Montenegro

Over the past week, I spent a total of about 27 hours and 25 minutes using my phone. I receive about 105 notifications a day. According to the data, I pick up my phone 81 times a day. My most used app is Twitter.

I knew I spent a lot of time on my phone, but I was not expecting the numbers to be this high. My results surprised me because I thought I had a little more control over how often I look at my phone.

Over the past week, I have become more conscious over my phone usage. I realize that I look at my phone when I’m doing homework or when I’m sitting with my friends at lunch. This has shown me that most of the time when I look at my phone, I should be doing something else. 

Social Media Hagy 

Vivien Hagy used her phone for 41 hours and 39 minutes over the past seven days. Seventeen of those hours were spent on Snapchat and eight on Instagram.

“I didn’t know I used my phone that much. I’m actually really surprised. I might start setting up app limits for my social media because I don’t want this much of my time wasted on it,” said Hagy.

The “Screen Time” feature allows users to set time limits for specific apps. After setting this up, the phone sends a notification once you have reached your daily limit. The only problem with the feature is that it is easy to press ignore on the notification and continue using the app.

Snapchat Queen Russo

In seven days, Lindsey Russo spent 58 hours and 28 minutes on her phone. With a daily average of over 8 hours, Russo had the highest screen time of the participants.

A lot of Russo’s time was spent watching movies, which contributed to such a high screen time. However, the majority of time was also spent on Snapchat.

“I use Snapchat more than texting or any other app because its an easy app to use and most people have it, but I wish I didn’t spend as much time on it.” she explained.

Khan Academy Curtis

Bridget Curtis wins the award for the lowest screen time of the week. With a total of 24 hours, Curtis only spent a little over three hours a day using her phone. Some of this time was also spent on Khan Academy to study for tests, but mostly on social media.

However, even though she has a lower screen time, she picks up her phone an average of 146 times a day.

Messaging Howard

On average, Emma Howard spent about 7 hours a day on her phone. Similarly to the other participants, her most used apps include Snapchat and Instagram. Howard spent several hours of the week texting. She spent over 43 hours on her phone this week.

“I didn’t know about the screen time feature before this experiment. After using it and paying more attention to it, I am going to try to spend less time on my phone. Knowing how much time we actually spend on social media is really surprising.” Howard said.

This experiment was done over the course of seven days, so some were at school and some were over the weekend. A common trend among everyone’s screen time was that on days that we were at school, the screen time was significantly lower. Days spent at home had a much higher screen time.

“When I’m not at school I tend to pick up my phone a lot more. When I get bored I just look at my phone. I also stay up late, so my screen time is much higher.” said Curtis.

A study from the Pew Research Center showed that teens are aware of the overuse of their phones. When they were without their phones, they felt feelings of anxiety and disconnect. Most are also trying to cut down on their phone use and are setting limits.

Screen-Free Week is taking place from April 29-May 5. Consider disconnecting a little and using your phone less to see how much time you are spending on your phone.