How often do you check your phone? 150 times a day?

When asked about the one thing people cannot leave the house without, many people would answer “my smartphone,” as it allows them not only to communicate with friends, family members, and colleagues, but also to do online financial transactions and navigate cities and locales.

Smartphones have become a necessity for modern life. These mobile devices allow us to call, send messages (both SMS and emails), go online, play games, listen to music, watch movies, read books, organize our daily lives, and a whole lot more. Every year, smartphone manufacturers sell millions and millions of units; every year, a new model is released, with bigger screens, lighter weights, faster processors, and a whole slew of improvements design to improve user interaction and experience with the product.

With the increasing ubiquity of the smartphone, many scholars and social researchers have asked the question: “how often do you check your phone?” Locket, an Android app that records and compensates its users for the number of times they unlock their phones gathered data to answer the question. The answer that they found is surprising, especially to smartphone users: an average person checks his or her smartphone a whopping 110 to 150 times a day. Let’s assume that an average person sleeps eight hours every day, leaving 16 hours of waking. There are 60 minutes in an hour, and 960 minutes in 16 hours. Checking your phone 110 times a day means unlocking your phone once every eight minutes, while 150 times per day translates to unlocking your phone once every six minutes. The researchers who have conducted this study have conceded that 150 times might be a modest number—some individuals might go beyond this number.

Research also shows that users belonging in the “highest frequency” of smartphone use check their phones once every six seconds, which could be interpreted as a kind of compulsive behaviour. Many users, however, will probably fall under moderate usage, which is still at 110 to 150 times a day. Furthermore, research shows that peak mobile usage is at 5 to 8 PM. If we were to infer on the demographics of these mobile users, we could conclude that these users are typically active on their mobile devices after work or school.

Another study published in the Personal and Ubiquitous Computing Journal delves into this question about the “checking habits” of mobile users. The respondents typically check their emails and Facebook apps around 34 times a day; not because they need to, but because the checking has developed into a compulsion.

A neuroscientist from the University of California, San Francisco, Loren Frank, offers interesting insight on the compulsive checking of mobile phones. Each time a mobile user gets an email or a Facebook notification, the brain interprets it as a positive feedback. The person might then feel important, and over time, the person might get used to this positive feedback and constantly check his or her smartphone without being conscious of it.

What about you? How many times in a day do you check your mobile phone?