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Fifteen years ago, you could brake at a red light, look to your right and to your left, and see nothing but busy moms and dead-eyed commuters, heads tipping back for a moment of rest or fingers adjusting the radio dials.

Not anymore.

In 2015, you’ll see the drivers on your right and left quickly tapping out a text or refreshing an email inbox before the light turns green. We’re buried in our phones as the world (or the light-change) passes us by. So goes the disheartening message that spools out of the latest research.

Worldwide Mobile Addicts Up 59% YoY
The latest research on mobile device addiction comes from Yahoo!’s Flurry. The study (Mobile Addicts Multiply Across the Globe) echoes some piercing truths from Bank of America while delivering a few of its own new findings:

  • 71% of the surveyed U.S. population sleeps with their smartphone.
  • From Q2 2014 to Q2 2015, the total population of smart devices measured by Flurry grew from 1.3B to 1.8B, a 38% year over year growth.
  • Regular Users, consumers who use apps between once and 16 times daily, grew from 784 million to 985 million in the same period, a 25% increase.
  • Super Users, consumers who use apps between 16 and 60 times daily, grew even more in that same period from 440 million to 590 million, a 34% increase.

But the biggest growth is amongst Mobile Addicts (those who launch applications 60+ times per day). They have increased by 59%, from 176 million in Q2 2014 to 280 million in Q2 2015.

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What Drives “Mobile Addicts?”
Flurry found that messaging and social apps were the most popular types of apps amongst “mobile addicts” (no surprise). This group of users launches messaging apps 6.56 times more than regular mobile users.

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However, there is another side to the story. “Mobile addicts” also heavily use “Utilities & Productivity” apps, as shown above, which suggests that this group is using their mobile device as a primary computing device. We see this inference as further support in taking a mobile-first approach whenever designing for the web or creating any kind of digital/social marketing campaign.

Should We Be Worried About Mobile Device Addiction?
Addiction of any sort is obviously cause for concern. But does this behavior actually qualify as “addictive” behavior? For many of us, our mobile devices are much more than tools for entertainment and time wasting. We can keep in touch with our kids, deposit checks, track our health goals, review documents, get from point A to B, read a book, use store coupons, and so much more. When you consider the vast array of options our mobile devices give us, frequent usage makes sense.

The decision to use those tools wisely is up to us. Do you feel like you have to consciously control how you use your mobile device? Why or why not?