Hard as it must be for older generations to believe, U.S. consumers are now spending more time on mobile devices than watching TV.
That’s according to eMarketer, which finds the average U.S. adult will spend 3 hours and 43 minutes per day on a mobile gadget this year -- slightly more than the 3 hours and 35 minutes spent watching television.
“We’ve expected mobile would overtake TV for a while, but seeing it happen is still surprising," Yoram Wurmser, eMarketer principal analyst, notes in a new report. “As recently as 2014, the average U.S. adult watched nearly two hours more TV than they spent on their phones.”
Of the time spent on mobile, this year, the average U.S. consumer will spend 2 hours and 55 minutes on a smartphone, which represents a 9-minute increase from 2018.
However, tablet use among U.S. adults continues to decline from a peak of 1 hour and 11 minutes per day in 2017. This year, the average U.S. consumer is expected to spend 1 hour and 8 minutes on a tablet, while eMarketer expects that figure to continue to decline through 2021.
Also of note, eMarketer doesn’t expect smartphone use to continue growing forever. While it will continue to make up the majority of consumers’ media consumption, the research firm predicts smartphone use will plateau by 2020, as consumers become increasingly uneasy about overuse of mobile devices.
How are U.S. consumers spending their mobile minutes?
They’re consistently spending most of that time using apps, according to eMarketer. In fact, the average user now spends 2 hours and 57 minutes per day in apps, compared to 26 minutes on mobile browsers.
Within apps, people are spending the most time listening to digital audio, followed by social-networking activity.
“Digital audio apps continue to add minutes because people are streaming more music on their phones, and podcasts have taken off in popularity in the past few years,” Wurmser noted.Looking ahead, smartphones will remain the dominant device for consumer media, although a burgeoning backlash over excessive screen time will represent a greater threat to mobile-minute growth.