Nomophobia Study Says Americans Love Their Phones

Study

Nearly 75% of Americans Choose Their Phones Over Their Perfect Match

Jamie Ballard

Written by: Jamie Ballard

Jamie Ballard

Jamie Ballard (she/her) is a professional writer and editor who covers news, lifestyle, and entertainment topics. She regularly contributes to Cosmopolitan, Allure, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, PEOPLE, and The Hollywood Reporter, among other publications.

Edited by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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How much screen time is too much? Asking for a friend, of course.

Jokes aside, many Americans are genuinely spending a lot of time on their phones. A new survey from DatingAdvice.com investigates just how much time Americans are spending on their phones and how addicted they are to their precious screen time. 

The survey data finds that 50% of Americans would give up their phone if they won the lottery. About half as many (26%) would be willing to give up their phone for the perfect mate. 

Could You Give Up Your Phone? 

The survey asked Americans to assess their priorities and disclose if they could imagine themselves giving up their phones for riches or for love.

Photo of someone texting
In DatingAdvice.com’s latest survey, 20% of Americans said they can’t live without their phones.

Young adults in the survey were more likely to say they would give up their phone in exchange for the perfect partner. Among adults under 25, a solid 37% said they would be willing to make this trade. A similar proportion of 25-to 34-year-olds (36%) said they would be willing to do the same. 

In contrast, just 16% of Americans 65 and older agreed to trade their phone for the perfect mate. 

The survey also found that one in five Americans (20%) said they can’t live without a mobile phone. About one-quarter of people 55 and older said they couldn’t survive without a phone, while fewer 45-to 54-year-olds (23%), 35-to 44-year-olds (17%), 25-to 34-year-olds (15%) and 18-to 24-year-olds (15%) said the same. 

Survey: 1 in 3 Americans Say They Have “Nomophobia”  

Many Americans seem to have “nomophobia” – a term defined in the survey as “NO MObile PHone PhoBIA, or the fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity.” 

While 67% of Americans in the survey claimed that they don’t have this fear, one-third of Americans admitted that they do. People between the ages of 35 and 44 are most likely to say they have this unhealthy attachment to their phones. A whopping 54% said they are self-professed nomophobes. 

Just 12% of Americans 65 and older think they’re nomophobes. But ask this age group to give up their phones for love, and you’ll get a different answer.

33% of Americans admit having nomophobia
Nomophobia refers to the fear of being away from one’s mobile phone.

Of course, sometimes it’s easier to identify flaws in other people than in oneself, so the survey went on to ask Americans if they know of any nomophobes in their life.

Many respondents said that they know at least a few nomophobes. Three in 10 Americans agreed they know “a few” nomophobes, and another 14% said they know hundreds of people who are overly attached to their phones. 

The majority of respondents (57%) said they do not know any nomophobes. People between 35 and 44 years old were most likely at 27% to say they know hundreds of nomophobes. Another 33% of 35- to 44-year-olds said they know a few nomophobes, while 40% said they don’t know any. 

45% of Americans Spend Over Two Hours on Their Phones

One way to identify phone addiction is to look at a person’s usage and the number of hours spent scrolling, swiping, and staring at a device.

According to the poll, 27% of Americans spend up to one hour per day on their phone, excluding work-related use. A similar percentage (28%) said they spend between one and two hours on their phone. 

Another 22% of respondents said they spend between two and four hours on their phone each day, and 23% said they spend four or more hours on the phone outside of work usage.  

People 65 and older were by far the most likely to say they spend no more than one hour on their phone each day, with 63% who say this is true for them. 

27% of Americans spend an hour or less on their phones per day.
Young people are most likely to say they spend too much time on their phones.

A separate poll from Gallup finds that as of 2022, 58% of American adults think they spend too much time using their smartphone. People between 18 and 29 are the most likely to say they spend too much time on their phone, at a staggering 81%. Among 30- to 49-year-olds, 74% think they spend too much time using their smartphone; 47% of 50-to 64-year-olds and 30% of those 65 and older agree. 

That being said, nearly two-thirds of people think their smartphone has made their life better. According to Gallup’s poll, 21% of U.S. adults think their smartphone has made their life “a lot” better and 44% think it’s made their life “a little better.”

Excessive Phone Usage Can Negatively Impact Relationships

Additional data suggests that the relationships we have with our phones might be having a negative impact on our romantic relationships. 

A 2019 Pew Research Center poll found that 51% of partnered Americans – that’s anyone who is married, cohabitating, or in a committed relationship – agreed their partner is often or sometimes distracted by their cellphone during conversations or dates. Four in 10 said they’re often or sometimes bothered by the amount of time their partner spends looking at a phone. 

40% of Americans say their partner's phone usage bothers them.
Romantic partners can miss out on quality time together if they’re buried in their phones.

It’s not entirely unsurprising for someone who feels their partner’s phone is a distraction to wonder what exactly is holding their partner’s attention within that little screen. According to the Pew Research Center poll, 34% of partnered U.S. adults say they’ve looked through their current partner’s phone without that person’s knowledge. Partnered women (42%) are more likely than partnered men (25%) to say they’ve done this.  

That being said, snooping on a partner’s phone is most certainly a bad relationship habit. DatingAdvice.com research suggests, “When you have the urge to snoop, check in with yourself on the why, and remind yourself that snooping isn’t the solution to whatever larger issues are at play. Ask yourself where the urge is coming from and if it’s coming from your partner’s behavior or your own fears or past?” 

But Technology Can Also Bring People Together, If Used Right

If you’re in a relationship, you should put your phone away and be present as much as possible. But if you’re single and looking for a date, keep swiping! According to the Pew Research Center, three in 10 Americans have used a dating site or app to meet new people. And a good number of online daters have seen success. The same poll found that 23% of Americans have gone on a date with someone they met through a dating app or site. 

In case you needed a reason to keep swiping, about 12% of Americans have been in a committed relationship or married to someone they met on a dating website or app. 

Data courtesy of the Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center studies trends in the online dating world.

Even if you don’t meet your future spouse on the first date, the latest research suggests that most Americans (57%) have positive experiences with dating sites or apps. About seven in 10 (71%) say it was easy to find someone they were physically attracted to on dating apps or websites. Another 64% of respondents say it was easy to find someone who shared their hobbies and interests. 

The survey also reported that 64% of Americans say it was easy to find someone who seemed like someone they wanted to meet in person, and 61% said it was easy to find someone who was looking for the same kind of relationship they were. 

All in all, the odds are good that you’ll meet an interesting and attractive person through a dating app or website. And who knows, they just might end up being your husband or wife! 

If you’re not sure where to start with your online dating journey (or if you think it’s time to try a new app), we’ve got plenty of recommendations for the best dating sites on the market. If you prefer something more tailored, the good news is there are plenty of options out there whether you’re looking to date people of a specific age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or practically anything else. If you’re looking for something serious, we’ve also highlighted the dating sites with the best marriage success rates.  

Survey Methodology: A national online survey of 1,036 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and older, was conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of DatingAdvice.com in 2023. Survey responses were nationally representative of the U.S. population for age, gender, region, and ethnicity. The maximum margin of sampling error was +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.