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Did Americans spend too much time on our phones in 2020?

Answer: Yes, but it’s okay; it’s been one of those years.

A woman typing on a smartphone.
It will probably come as no surprise that mobile screen time in the U.S. saw a significant increase during the last year. According to CNN Business, Americans spent an average of one additional hour on their phones every day than they did in 2019. App Annie, an app analytics firm, crunched the numbers and found that daily screen time in 2019 averaged three hours, but in 2020 it averaged four hours. That’s a significant gain for such a short amount of time.

But it isn’t entirely surprising. Consider the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many to work from home, turning their phone from a personal device used during breaks to another integral method of maintaining communication with coworkers and clients. And there was what seemed like an almost continuous stream of breaking news that many of us consumed on our smartphones, from COVID-19 updates to protests against racial injustice to a tumultuous election.

And then, of course, there were the ways in which we turned to our phones to help us relax during such a wild ride of a year. In-app purchases on the iOS and Google Play stores increased by 25 percent over 2019, and streaming media services likely saw similar increases in usage.