How Americans Value Their Phones Compared To Sex, Chocolate, And Shoes

22% Would Rather Give Up Their Toothbrush Than Their Phone

Are you master of your domain? Could going without your mobile phone for a week make you one?

A new survey conducted by mobile GPS company TeleNav suggests that, for a week at a time at least, many Americans are willing to give up some of life's, er, baser pleasures, if it means keeping their cell phones instead. The survey of just over 500 American adults sought to track how attached they were to their smartphones, according to a company spokesperson. When asked if they would rather give up their mobile phones for a week versus a series of other things, many Americans were resistant to give up their handsets, as:

  • 74 percent would give up alcohol for a week rather than their smartphones.
  • 55 percent would rather forgo caffeine.
  • 33 percent would rather give up sex.
  • 22 percent would rather not use a toothbrush.
  • 21 percent would rather go without shoes.

Here is a full and illustrated version of the findings, via TeleNav's press release:

I can see going without caffeine or alcohol for a week (with or without my phone), but a toothbrush? Come on, people. Brush your teeth.

Perhaps more interestingly than the 'Would You Rather' portion of the left side of the graph is the comparison across iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry users on the right. Standout statistics:

  • 50 percent of Android owners "believe their phone reflects their sense of style," compared to 43 percent for BlackBerry and 35 percent for iPhone.
  • Only 45 percent of iPhone users have never paid more than a dollar for an app, compared to 62 percent on Android and 63 percent on BlackBerry.
  • 34 percent of iPhone users check their phones at the dinner table, compared to around 20 percent for both Android and BlackBerry users.

This is a pretty small sample size for a survey, so the results shouldn't be taken as definite truth. Also, TeleNav is, according to its site, "a leading provider of consumer location-based services"--in other words, it's not a company that specializes in surveys.

Consumers switching between phones should also be taken into account here, as another recent survey shows that about half of all BlackBerry and Android users had little brand allegiance and were planning on switching to iPhones when they got a chance, so characterizations based on brand identity are risky. The findings and survey questions of this particular survey, however, were intriguing and bizarre enough to share.

Moreover, other studies have found that some users have indeed become "addicted" to their gadgets. Data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project showed that two-thirds of Americans sleep with their phones next to their beds, while an Intersperience study found that the "challenge of 24 hours without digital devices [was] described as [a] ‘nightmare,'" by respondents.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a nap with my smartphone.


CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the brands in the survey were iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone. They are in fact iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry.

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