How Much Time do You Spend on Your Phone?

Chris Hornung '18

Our recent research on campus suggests Tommies use their phones, on average, 215 minutes per day. That works out to just about 3 and a half hours per day! We also found that students typically underestimated how much time they spend on their phones per day. Some students even underestimated by more than an hour! How do you stack up?

First, grab out a piece of scratch paper and jot down how much time you think you use your phone per day. Include all phone uses except for listening to music. In other words, estimate how much time per day you are actively interacting with your phone. Take note of this number. We are going to see how accurate your estimate really is.

If you have an iPhone, use can use the images below to figure out how much time you actually spend on your phone per day. (Instructions for Android users are similar but differ depending on your phone model).



  1. Locate your Settings icon and give it a tap
  2. In Settings, scroll down until you see Battery; select it
  3. Select the option to the right of the highlighted option that says Last 24 Hours. In the picture, this option says Last 7 days. Your iPhone may be different than this, but as we’ll explain later, it will not affect your results.
  4. Tap the clock to the right of the option you just highlighted.
  5. This is what your screen should look like when all of steps 1-4 have been successfully completed.
  6. Grab a calculator and add up all of the time from each of the applications on your phone. Notice that some of the times are in minutes while others are in hours. You will need to convert the time into a consistent unit (I find minutes to be the easiest)
  7. Scroll down in your application list and add up the time spent on your remaining apps, once again converting the times to a consistent unit.
  8. This is the final step. Take the sum of the time spend on all of your applications and divide by the number of days collected (as shown in the picture). Since we divided by the number of days that the data was collected, the number of days that your phone collected phone use time was not important.


How did you stack up? Were your results similar to your estimate?

Luckily, there are apps that you can download if you are interested in keeping tabs on your phone use without having to dig out a calculator every time. Moment is an IOS based application that tracks your phone usage and also allows you to set limits for how much you can use your phone per day. I have personally used Moment now for about 2 years and find it very helpful. QualityTime is another option with Android capability and great ratings!

The first step in changing your technology use habits is to get an accurate understanding of how much and how you use it. This information can help you make changes that can boost your productivity and get you back to getting the most out of the college experience.

For more information and tips on how to improve your relationship with technology visit the Tommies Unplugged webpage at