Cell Phone Behavior Survey: What Do People Do on Their Phones?

We sent out a survey asking some cutting questions about how people use their smartphones—and we got a whole lot more than we bargained for.

As the generation wars wage and older people and younger people remain ever-divided on key issues, we wanted to find out if they’re also divided on smartphone use. Sure, younger generations grew up with technology and treat their phones better than their own children. But how do older people feel about their digital pals?

Turns out, older people and younger people have some similar habits and opinions about smartphones. A surprising divide was actually between how men and women use their phones. Oh, and also what one guy from New Jersey does with his.

Survey methodology

We researched popular questions about cellphone usage, including ones about private or potentially embarrassing behavior. We then conducted an anonymous survey of 200 men and women between the ages of 18 and 54+.

Survey takeaways: older and younger people

Our youngest group (18-to-24-year-olds) and our oldest group (over-54-year-olds) had a surprising amount in common. The majority of both groups stated:

  • They are “somewhat” addicted to their phones.
  • They check their phones up to 160 times per day.
  • They “never” look at their phones on dates.
  • They have never used their phones to drunk text an ex (that’s right, not even the 20-somethings).
  • They think kids should get their first phones in middle school.

Survey takeaways: men and women

  • 54.5% of people use or look at their phone while driving.
    • 59% of men admit to looking at their phones vs. 51% of women.
  • 44.5% of people use their phones for adult content.
    • 58% of men said they use their phones for this vs. 34% of women.
  • 91.5% of people feel uneasy leaving their phone at home.
    • When asked how uneasy they feel, 38% of women said they feel “extremely uneasy” vs. 31% of men.
  • 76.5% of people consider themselves addicted to their phones.
    • 82% of women consider themselves addicted vs. 70% of men.
  • 62% of people check their phones up to 160 times per day (23.5% check their phones up to 320 times per day).
    • 29% of men said they check their phones 320 times per day vs. 19% of women.
  • 59.5% of people have texted someone who’s in the same room as them.
    • 65% of women said they have done this vs. 52% of men.
  • Only one person said they “always” use their phone during sex, and it was a 55-year-old man from New Jersey.

Other survey takeaways

  • 64% of people surveyed upgraded their phone in the last year.
  • 74% of people use their phones as an alarm clock.
  • 48.5% of people use their phone on dates.
  • 67% of people said they use their phone on the toilet (and, in our opinion, 33% of people lied).
  • Only 7% of people use their phones in the shower.


When we sent out our survey, we expected to see some pretty big generational and gender differences in the way people use their phones. But while the gender differences are interesting, we were most surprised to find out how similar older and younger people’s phone habits are. For example, how both older and younger people feel they are addicted to their phones, and how both groups of people feel about using their phones on dates. Turns out the technology gap might be smaller than we thought.