The processing power of the average smartphone is more than twice that of the onboard computer of the Apollo 11. We can use our phones for far more than simple communication – our mobile devices are capable of astonishingly sophisticated feats. So how are we utilising the astonishing abilities of these miraculous machines? Um…
1 To check the weather
According to the Deloitte Mobile Consumer survey of last year, the top use of mobile apps in the UK is…checking the weather. Well, we are British, after all. Weather apps surpass even social media in popularity in Britain. Guess that’s one national stereotype we’ll just have to accept.
2 Social media
Social media apps are the second most frequently used after weather apps. However, the term ‘social media’ covers a huge range of bases, from posting selfies to messaging friends. Let’s break down what ‘social media usage’ actually looks like:
Very few of us actually use our phones to talk verbally to one another these days. In fact, about 20% of smartphone users say they have never made or received a phone call on their smartphones at all. Instead of talking, we now communicate via Messenger gifs.
In 2015, more people were killed taking selfies than were attacked by sharks. Regardless of the danger, we Brits LOVE posting selfies. In all fairness, while you could, in theory, use the computational power of your phone to send a shuttle to the moon, you could also use it to give yourself a cat-ear filter. Britain has spoken, and it prefers the cat-ear option.
Consuming news and media
While news apps still have the edge over social media when it comes to news dissemination, they’re losing ground fast. Many people absorb the entirety of their news on current affairs via social media. Which is a bit worrying, when you consider the Echo Chamber Effect.
In all fairness, a lot of us do use social media to be social. We use it to catch up with people, chew the fat, congratulate one another, organise events… and to stalk people – by mere mention, don’t think we advocate this type of use!
3 Mindlessly scrolling
Ok, so ‘mindlessly scrolling’ is perhaps a little unfair. But many of us admit to mainly using our phones as a ‘filler’ activity. When we’re in a waiting room, or at a bus stop, or in a queue, we’ll reach for our phones and start fiddling. There’s no real sense of purpose to it other than filling time. And it’s a self-perpetuating activity. The less we simply, quietly exist without the stimulation of our phones, the more we lose that ability. Which explains why many of us are now even ‘mindlessly scrolling’ in the middle of the night. If you’d told us thirty years ago that we’d be sitting up at midnight, staring at pictures of cats, we’d have been utterly bemused. Yet, here we are.