August 28, 2018
2 min read

Study shows substantial increase in time spent looking at screens

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The amount of time people spend looking at a screen has increased substantially, with Americans devoting nearly half of their waking hours to it.

“Digital eye fatigue is faced by millions of Americans every day because of this nonstop screen time,” Michele Andrews, OD, senior director for North American professional and academic affairs at CooperVision, said in a press release from the company.

On behalf of CooperVision, OnePoll surveyed 2,000 Americans about screen time habits. The results revealed that Americans spend 42% of their waking hours looking as screens, including phones, laptops, TVs and tablets. Moreover, 79% of the survey participants reported an increase in screen time over the last 4 years, and 41% believe that increase was “a lot.”

For 74% of employed Americans, using a computer is part of their job, and 33% feel a “greater need to check social media” as compared to 5 years ago. This may contribute to why 49% of Americans feel that, in the last 5 years, society has become centralized around digital technology and screens.

CooperVision reports that seven out of 10 Americans check their phone immediately after waking up in the morning, but age substantially plays into screen habits. Millennials, according to the survey, are “more screen-oriented than other generations,” with 92% of adults 18 to 35 years old being more likely to check their phone in the morning. Comparatively, only 51% of adults 55 years and older reported checking their phone first thing in the morning. Furthermore, 58% of millennials report axiety or irritation if they can’t check their phone, while only 21% of adults 55 and older report similar feelings, according to the survey results.

Surveyed participants reported needing a break from screens an average of three times a day, and discomfort usually develops after looking at screens for a little more than 4 hours at a time. Instead of taking an actual break from screens, 53% reported taking a break from the computer to scroll through their phone. Additionally, scrolling through a phone while watching television is a common experience, with 27% of respondents admitting they frequently “dual screen.”

In regard to mental and physical health, screen time could have a serious impact. According to the survey, 73% felt physically tired after looking at screens, and 64% feel happier after long absences from digital devices and screens. A noticeable decline in vision quality was reported by 57% of respondents, and they “suspect it has something to do with their screen time habits.”

When screen time was broken down by device, TV screens were the most looked at, for 91% of the time. Smartphones, laptops, DVD or Blu-ray players and desktop computers were looked at 74%, 73%, 64% and 56% of the time, respectively. IPads or tablets were most looked at, for 46% of the time, video game consoles for 42%, iPhones for 31% and Kindle or e-readers for 27%. MP3 players were the least-looked-at screen, with 26%, according to the survey.

“We live in a digitally connected world, and these survey results show how digital devices have completely transformed our lives, no matter our age,” Andrews said.