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Study: American Adults Are Always Connected And Dependent Upon Their Mobile Devices

Bank of America logo Recently, Bank of America released the results of its second annual Trends in Mobility study.The report explored how several generations of adults -- millennials, Generation X, baby boomers, and seniors -- use their mobile devices, including banking. Key findings:

  • About three-quarters (71 percent) of respondents sleep with–or next to–their mobile phones. Younger millennials (ages 18-24) are most likely to sleep with their smartphone on the bed (34%)
  • The first thing people reach for when they wake up is their mobile device (35 percent) compared to coffee (17 percent), their toothbrush (13 percent), and their spouse (10 percent)
  • Similarly, at the end of the day almost one-quarter (23 percent) of survey respondents fall asleep with their smartphone in their hand. 44 percent of  younger millennials (ages 18-24) fall asleep with their devices
  • Throughout the day, 54 percent of younger millennials (and 36 percent of all survey respondents) constantly check and use their mobile devices. 36 percent of younger millennials and 21 percent of all survey respondents check their devices once per hour
  • Almost four in 10 (38 percent) of consumers say they never disconnect from their mobile phones. Only 7 percent unplug during vacation
  • Almost half (44 percent) of survey respondents said they couldn’t last a day without their mobile devices. Younger people are more dependent. 41 percent of older millennials (ages 25-34) and 37 percent of Generation X (ages 35-49) said they couldn't last a day without their devices
  • 46 percent of survey respondents said ages 13 - 15 is the best age for parents to buy smartphones for their children. 19 percent said ages 16 - 18. 14 percent said the best age is when children can buy their own phones
  • The constant online usage extends to online banking

Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility study

Mobile seems to be replacing visits to physical bank branches. 83 percent of respondents have visited a physical bank branch during the past 6 months. While half (51 percent) of all survey respondents use either mobile or online as their primary banking method, only 23 percent of respondents and 6 percent of younger millennials use physical bank branches for most transactions. That has implications for low-paid tellers and branch employees.

Earlier this year, Bank of America raised prices for its checking account customers. Last year, the bank paid $16.65 billion to settle investigations by the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) and several states' attorney generals into the bank's former and current subsidiaries, including Countrywide Financial Corporation and Merrill Lynch, related to the packaging, marketing, sale, and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).

The results align with other studies. The Pew Research Center studied mobile etiquette, and found that while 92 percent of American adults have cellphones, 31 percent never turn off their devices and 45 percent rarely turn off their devices. About etiquette, Pew found:

  • 77 percent of survey respondents thought it okay to use phones while walking down the street
  • 75 percent thought it okay to use phones on public transportation (e.g., buses, subways, commuter trains)
  • 38 percent thought it okay to use phones in restaurants
  • 5 percent thought it okay to use phones during meetings
  • 89 percent used their phone during their most recent social gathering

The survey by Pew included 3,217 adults in the U.S. from May 30 to June 30, 2014. Pew also found:

"As a general proposition, Americans view cell phones as distracting and annoying when used in social settings — but at the same time, many use their own devices during group encounters... 82% of adults say that when people use their phones in these settings it frequently or occasionally hurts the conversation. Meanwhile, 33% say that cell phone use in these situations frequently or occasionally contributes to the conversation and atmosphere of the group. Women are more likely than men to feel cell use at social gatherings hurts the group... those over age 50 (45%) are more likely than younger cell owners (29%) to feel that cellphone use frequently hurts group conversations... Young adults have higher tolerance for cellphone use in public and in social settings; they also are more likely to have used their phone during a recent social gathering..."

Why people use their mobile devices during social gatherings:

  • 45 percent: post a photo or video of the social gathering
  • 41 percent: to share something that happened in the group
  • 38 percent: get information that might be of interest to the group
  • 31 percent: connect with others the group knows
  • 16 percent: no longer interested in the group's activity
  • 10 percent: to avoid participating in the group's activity

The survey results are great news for banks, telecommunications companies, mobile device manufacturers, app developers, and data brokers that want to collect location data and serve location-based advertisements.

The Bank of America survey, conducted by Braun Research, Inc. from April 13 - 26, 2015, included 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 or older. Download the 2015 Trends in Consumer Mobility report (Adobe PDF) by Bank of America.


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scary, will we forget how to talk to each other?

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