Watching TV with our smartphones by our side

by Grace

It appears I am not alone in keeping my smart phone handy while watching television.

About 44 percent of Americans utilize another device while watching television — but among that group, only 13 percent say that it makes the program-viewing experience “much more enjoyable.” A significant 67 percent report that it makes their TV viewing “somewhat more enjoyable.”

Hungry for more information

I would say it makes my viewing experience more enjoyable.  Most of the time I use my phone to look up information about a particular person appearing on a news or reality show, which is mostly what I watch on TV.  So if an expert is opining on a particular topic, I might look up his background to consider how credible I consider his views.  Or if a starlet is embroiled in some scandal, I might Google her to see how many times she’s been married.

… 67 percent of those using a second screen while watching TV are searching for program-related content. And the most commonly used second-screen device is a smart phone. Those most likely to use their phones in this way are millennials (ages 13 to 34). Women are also more likely to be second-screen users than men.

Millennials are more likely to access Twitter for shows they are watching (22 percent) and mostly go to social network sites where they can interact with or track a community of other viewers.

The use of what the study calls “synchronized content” is most often done during reality shows (29 percent) and for participating in contests to win prizes (24 percent). An overwhelming 72 percent said such content is only appropriate for certain shows.

Too distracting?
Does this use of “synchronized content” create a negative distraction as much multitasking does in other areas?  I usually check my smart phone while pausing the program or during commercials, so I don’t consider it multitasking as much as “data-enhanced” viewing.

Social or anti-social viewing?
Checking Twitter or similar social media sites can make TV watching more of a social event at times.  For example, if I’m home alone watching the Super Bowl, I might want to check in with Facebook friends during the game to make it a more exciting event.  Or would that just make me feel lonely for not being invited to a Super Bowl party?

Related:  Distracted by digital devices (Cost of College)


4 Comments to “Watching TV with our smartphones by our side”

  1. Since I have neither a TV nor a cell phone, I don’t “keep a smartphone handy while watching television”. About the only time I use two screens at once is when I use my oscilloscope and my laptop at the same time (though once or twice I’ve used both my laptop and my desktop at work at the same time—generally transferring data between the two machines).


  2. I used to always watch TV and read a book at the same time. TV just couldn’t hold enough of my attention. Now, I have no time for either activity, alas


  3. “Since I have neither a TV nor a cell phone”

    How in the world do you survive? 🙂 . . . (Quite well, I’m sure!)


  4. I have a computer and I read a lot of blogs, so I have no shortage of screen time.

    I also don’t have a car, but I have a bike.

    I’m often amazed at how many people regard their particular toys as “indispensible”.


%d bloggers like this: