Mobile phone obsession

Mobile phone obsession

The majority of us use a smartphone in the digital age. With our dependency increasing, what exactly are we using our handsets for and just how addicted are we?

We decided to delve into how Brits are getting intimate with their phones, uncovering some interesting insights.

Just how addicted are we?

Our mobiles have become integral to our daily lives, whether it be for work or play. In fact, as of 2015, there were 125 mobile cellular subscriptions for every 100 people in the UK, according to The World Bank. Having easy and constant access to our phones has become, for the most part, a societal norm rather than an oddity.

Our research has revealed that the most popular places Brits are using their phones are on the toilet (47.4%), at a petrol station (21.9%), watching an event (a movie, concert, musical or theatre) (19.4%), driving (16.8%) and at a wedding ceremony (8.1%).

These situations were followed by having sex (5.9%), on an aeroplane (5.8%), at the birth of their child (3.7%), at a job interview (3.1%), at a funeral ceremony (2.8%) and on an operating table (2.4%).

In numbers, that totals to 18.7 million of us using our mobiles on the toilet, over 6.6 million of us checking our phones while driving and more than 2 million of us using our phones during sex.

Event Percentage
Watching an event 19.40%
At a funeral 2.80%
At a wedding 8.10%
Birth of your child 3.70%
On the toilet 47.40%
On an operating table 2.40%
At a job interview 3.10%
Having sex 5.90%
Driving 16.80%
At a petrol station 21.90%
On an aeroplane 5.80%

Let’s break it down by demographic


When it comes to men vs. women, men are more likely to use their phones while driving (20.7%) compared to women (12.8%). Men are also more than twice as likely to use their phones during sex (7.8%) compared to women (3.8%) and during a job interview (4.5% compared to 1.5% respectively).

For women, the top three places for using a mobile are on the toilet (47.2%), at a petrol station (20.6%) and watching an event (movie, concert, musical or theatre) (19.0%). For men it’s on the toilet (47.3%), followed by at a petrol station (23.1%) and driving (20.7%).

Event Men Women
Watching a movie, concert, musical or theatre 19.5% 19.0%
At a funeral ceremony 3.7% 1.6%
At a wedding ceremony 9.1% 6.8%
At the birth of your child 5.0% 2.3%
On the toilet 47.3% 47.2%
On an operating table 3.5% 1.1%
At a job interview 4.5% 1.5%
Having sex 7.8% 3.8%
Driving 20.7% 12.8%
At a petrol station 23.1% 20.6%
On an aeroplane 5.4% 6.0%


Age appears to translate to the level of dependence we have with our mobile phones. Millennials topped all categories for mobile phone use, followed by Gen X and Baby Boomers.

Of those who own mobile phones, 61.1% of Millennials admit to using their phone on the toilet, followed by 53.0% of Gen X and 34.8% of Baby Boomers. Furthermore, the need to switch on during a time of mourning is also most popular for our younger generations, with 7.7% of Millennials using their phones at funeral ceremonies, compared to 1.9% of Gen X and just 0.9% of Baby Boomers.

Event Milennials Gen Xers Baby Boomers
Watching a movie, concert, musical or theatre 39.2% 21.6% 7.3%
At a funeral ceremony 7.7% 1.9% 0.9%
At a wedding ceremony 15.3% 8.7% 3.6%
At the birth of your child 10.8% 3.2% 0.5%
On the toilet 61.1% 53.0% 34.8%
On an operating table 5.8% 2.7% 0.1%
At a job interview 7.7% 3.1% 0.6%
Having sex 14.0% 5.6% 1.9%
Driving 21.7% 17.1% 13.8%
At a petrol station 27.8% 23.0% 17.8%
On an aeroplane 12.2% 5.8% 2.3%


Of qualifying regions, Londoners are the most likely to use their mobile phones during these situations, followed by those in the North East, the West Midlands and the East Midlands.

A late night addiction?

Our research has revealed that 43.2% of Brits who own a mobile phone check it at night. Text messaging is the most popular reason for checking (23.0%) at night, followed by personal emails (21.0%), Facebook (19.0%), instant messages (14.9%), missed calls (14.8%) and work emails (8.6%) – that equates to nearly 3.5 million of us checking our phones after the traditional 9–5 working hours.


Men check their phones at night more than women (43.7% compared to 39.9% respectively), and are also more than twice as likely to check for work emails (12.1%) than women (5.0%). More men also use Twitter in the evenings, sitting at 9.9% compared to 4.5% of women.

Function Men Women
Personal emails 21.2% 20.7%
Work emails 12.1% 5.0%
Text messages 21.6% 24.2%
Instant messages 14.9% 14.7%
Missed calls 15.4% 14.0%
Facebook 17.4% 20.5%
Twitter 9.9% 4.5%
Other social media platforms 5.8% 5.7%
Porn 3.7% 1.2%
Online shopping sites 8.6% 8.9%


The younger you are the more likely you’ll be checking your phone in the evenings. 77.4% of Millennials admit to checking their phones after dark, followed by 46.3% of Gen Xers and 19.8% of Baby Boomers. Therefore, unsurprisingly, Millennials came out on top across all categories for evening mobile usage.

Over 1 in 5 Millennials (21.3%) check their phones for work emails in the evening, followed by 8.5% of Gen Xers and 2.7% of Baby Boomers, illustrating the changing working life in the 21st century.

Nearly half (46.1%) of Millennials check their phone for text messages at night, followed by 26.7% of Gen Xers and 8.5% of Baby Boomers.


Those residing in London are checking their phones for work emails at night considerably more than any other region (28.9%). This is more than twice as much as the North East (13.2%) and the East and West Midlands (each sitting at 6.1% respectively).

When does it become serious?

Generally speaking, using your phone to kill time while in the bathroom (despite not being overly hygienic) or at a ceremony, will do little harm. However, those using their phones during sex or while on an operating table may be falling into the dangerous addiction category. For those who have their eyes glued to their screens while driving, it’s even a safety detriment.

If you suspect that you, or someone you know, could be suffering from phone addiction, there are a variety of measures you can take to stop it in its tracks. Kill your notifications, delete apps you no longer use and don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. It could also be beneficial to set a phone-free time for yourself to focus on what’s really important.

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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