With mobile devices serving as a lifeline to the outside world amid stay-at-home orders, time spent on smartphones and tablets has jumped. Though the pandemic has accelerated some long-term trends, such as increased time with mobile video and gaming, this unfamiliar situation has also reversed other trends and introduced new behaviors that may last beyond 2020.
How has mobile time spent changed over the past year?
Some trends we expected this year were already evident prior to the coronavirus pandemic, including increasing time spent with streaming audio, video, gaming and social media. COVID-19 has, if anything, accelerated many of these trends.
How has the coronavirus pandemic influenced daily time spent on mobile devices?
The average US adult will spend 23 additional minutes per day on their smartphones in 2020, a big increase from our pre-pandemic estimates. Tablet time will also gain 2 minutes, a reversal from the slight decrease we had expected before the pandemic.
Which content categories have gained the most minutes?
All major app categories are up, but social networking has gained the most extra minutes: 11 minutes per day for the average adult, followed by mobile video with 10 minutes. Messaging is expected to rise by 4 minutes. By comparison, digital audio will gain just 2 minutes—well below its pre-pandemic trajectory—and the “other” category, which includes maps, dating, weather, news, shopping and ride-sharing apps, will lose 2 minutes.
What lasting impacts will the pandemic have on mobile usage?
Though some changes will be temporary, such as the large increase in voice calling, we still expect the baseline to be raised for most app categories. Mobile will gain just a few minutes in 2021, but our long-term figures for 2021 through 2023 will remain mostly above our pre-pandemic predictions.
WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report reviews our latest forecast for US mobile time spent, highlighting the coronavirus effect on our numbers while examining trends that pre-date and will persist beyond the current crisis.
KEY STAT: The big rise in mobile usage has mostly come on smartphones, which have gained 23 minutes daily for the average US adult.
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