Industry watchdogs, safety experts warn of growing U.S. addiction to cell phones

DENVER, CO – Experts say that any parent now considering buying his or her child a smart phone for Christmas should think twice about it.

Millions of American parents are worried about their child’s cell phone usage and safety consultants at the SafeWise website agree that they have every reason to be concerned.

Cell phones are a major contributing factor to modern problems that range from sleep deprivation to distracted driving to trolling by online predators, they say.

Reports from various U.S. cell phone service providers indicate that there are about 310 million of their devices currently in use nationwide. Since the U.S. population is 340 million and there are about 46 million American children under the age of 11, it’s likely that nearly every U.S. adult and teenager who can afford one has a cell phone and a lot of pre-teens as well.

But the real question is how dependent on their cell phones are those American users? “Frightening so,” according to a recent study by the website.

More than half of all Americans (nearly 57 percent) told the researchers that they consider themselves “addicted” to their cell phones.

Utah comes in twelfth in a national ranking of states most obsessed with cell phones. That ranking was determined by analyzing each state’s average monthly searches for 3,200 terms such as “battery overheating” and “phone not working.”

Utah logged an average of 11,630 searches for those terms each month, which industry experts say are indicative of cell phone overuse.

Sleep advocates at also insist that “ … it’s important to underline how spending so long on phones might cause our sleep pattern to shift for the worst, as exposure to blue lights has been shown to suppress melatonin, reduce sleep quality and delay the daily circadian rhythm.”

Despite those health concerns, 60 percent of users responding to the survey confessed to sleeping with their phones at night.

The study also found that the average American checks his or her cell phone 144 times a day. Unbelievable as that might sound, the study backs that information up with an estimate that Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours on their cell phones each day or an average of more than two months (65 days) per year.

While those 2023 usage rates might seem to stagger the imagination, they are actually a 58 percent decrease from the results of a similar study conducted a year earlier. That 2022 study found that the average cell phone was checked 344 times a day.

Americans are also more protective of their devices compared to 2022, according to Alex Kerai, a researcher for

While there is a decline in the number of people who would actually endanger themselves to protect their phones, Kerai explains, most Americans (82 percent) still admit that they would make sure that they had their phones prior to evacuating from a house fire, earthquake or similar disaster.

That statistic alone should give a parent pause before purchasing a cell phone for his or her child, according to experts at SafeWise.

But protecting phones may also have something to do with the higher cost of smartphones, Kerai observes. As prices rise, more Americans appear to be becoming cost-savvy about mobile device purchases while fewer are upgrading their phones each year.

About the only good news in the study relates to distracted driving. In 2023, only about 27 percent of motorists admitted to using their phones while driving, a 14 percent decrease from 2022.

The study was based on a survey of 1,000 Americans over the age of 18. With a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent, the survey results were weighted to reflect characteristics of the U.S. population using data from the Census of 2020.

The survey respondents were asked to refer to their phone’s screen time report to determine the average number of times per day they check their phones and their total daily usage time.

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