by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A third of Americans have worried that they spend too much time on their phones, a new poll from the Deseret News finds, which is more than three times as many as had those same worries seven years ago.
These results reflect an increasing—and possibly well-placed—anxiety about how the proliferation of readily available screens affects ourselves, our children, and our culture as a whole.
Every year, the Deseret News conducts a poll based on one of the Ten Commandments, testing the relationship between those timeless rules and today’s 21st century technology. This year, they opted to survey a nationally representative group of 1,000 adult Americans on a question loosely related to the commandment “thou shalt not covet,” wondering specifically how phone use and advertising draws our attention.
In order to establish some comparability over time, the News replicated the language of a 2012 Pew Research Center poll on phone use. Both polls asked respondents if they ever worry about how much time they spend on their phone. The results are quite pronounced: 36 percent are concerned about overuse, compared to 11 percent in 2012.
The 2019 survey also captures significant generational and/or age disparities in concern about phone use. Just 10 percent of those over 65 worry that they use their phone too much, compared to half of those under 30.