The Average American Adult Spends 8 1/2 Hours a Day Staring into Screens

By March 31, 2009 6 comments

The average American adult spends eight and a half hours a day in front of a screen, whether it’s on a computer, TV, mobile phone or other gadget. Users who spend the most time in front of a screen are those in the 45-54 age group, who dedicate nine and a half hours to this per day. These are the results of a new study by the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence (CRE) and Ball State University’s Center for Media Design (CMD). TV is still the main media activity, followed in descending popularity by computers, radio and print media. The report finds that the average American spends 142.5 minutes daily in front of a computer, which is dwarfed by TV’s 353.1 minutes. PC users spend almost as much time working with software (46.1 minutes) as they do on the Web (48.8 minutes). The report doesn’t make clear if the software is installed on PCs or in the cloud.

The biggest computer users are those between the ages of 35 and 44, who spend a half-hour more than any other group in front of the computer, 199.3 minutes.

While the report doesn’t focus on social networking per se, you can see its influence, especially on younger users.

While those in the youngest age group, 18-24, spend the second-highest amount of time on the Internet (67 minutes), their email usage of 20.3 is significantly lower than the average of 37.4 minutes across all age groups, and is only higher than one group, adults 65 and over.

Since we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift in advertising, and are concerned that all the old models are breaking (or have broken) down, it’s fascinating to see CRE report that, despite DVR and channel-surfing, the average American adult watches 72 minutes of TV ads a day.

The CRE study is most interesting in its methodology and what it might have revealed about the accuracy of survey-based studies - it observed users and reported their actions at 10-second intervals, and found that users' habits were different than what the users themselves reported.

One of these findings flies in the face of most reports about the increases in computer video watching, as it found that the average American does this for a little over two minutes a day, or just a few seconds more than they text.

Of course, Ball State has admitted members of my own family as students, so you might want to question the intellectual standards of the institution behind the report, though they're surely higher than Purdue's. To this we should also add: Go IU!

Page top


This research reveals consumer electronics has become more and more important in our daily life, now most of our life is related to our life .
here I have a good place:
there are many kinds of beautiful and lovely consumer electronics , which has really gave me a big help!

Submitted by redhat (not verified) - on April 09, 2009 at 07:17 pm

I remember reading another research paper done back in the 70's that said the average viewing time was about 7 hours a day, so the only thing that's changed is that the computer monitor has replaced the TV.

Submitted by BarryInOrangeCounty (not verified) - on August 24, 2009 at 11:49 pm

[...] one reads it. How many hours do you spend on the computer? The average american according to this link, says that American’s spend 8 to 9 hours a day in front of a screen on a daily basis. If you [...]

Submitted by Why Your Blog is an Epic Failure (not verified) - on May 19, 2010 at 05:09 pm

[...] The average American adult spends 8 1/2 hours a day staring into screens. We have gotten down on our knees and ripped the faucet off the water main of information with mouths and hands wide open. By majority, we are a culture of people in a constant state of waiting for the next thing to do, the next thing to react to, to eat, to drink, to socialize, to attend, to take care of, to engage on whatever level enough to prompt us to feel like we know what we’re supposed to do next while we are awake. I truly believe it’s NOT human nature that we are control freaks with how much idle time we allow. I believe we are taught by our environment how to, and why we should limit our solitude, deviate from it, stay misinformed on how to leverage it for personal growth. We do this out of fear. To us I think deep down we know that solitude is the ultimate place of vulnerability, where we are forced to face the truth, ourselves, with no distraction, and it’s uncomfortable. [...]

Submitted by Like A Population of Over-Stimulated Newborns | Rich Harris (not verified) - on June 10, 2010 at 08:19 am

Silence, slowing down, refusal to admit advertising into my personal space, and hours of the day spent not staring into screens, but actually doing and experiencing things---rather than observing life through the screens--has become my main objective.

It's lonely here in the actual world, though. I'm amazed to even find this article. There is so little material on this phenomenon. During my 40-hour work week I am chained to the computer. That is where I am right now. This is the "land of the free," right? But I'm not free to not use computers.

Computers have really messed up my sense of time, space and physical focus. I appreciate the flow of information. But I fear the cost is too high, for me, personally, anyway. I get a lot of crap for this. But after my 8 hour day where I am only virtual---all my skills used in my job come from my head and through the computer --I am more and more feeling disembodied, unreal, and I fear I will have to quit my job, because I don't know how long I can take it.

I am also very tired lately and have been sleeping far more than I used to. I have never had to interface with machines so much. Plus all customer service is on the phone. Little to no human voice contact. Very unnerving. I honestly don't know how people aren't going mad.

Submitted by Burkey (not verified) - on August 03, 2010 at 08:39 pm

A lot of people in tech are beginning to say similar things.

I'm starting to notice that if I go to Starbucks to read, I end up checking my iPhone every ten minutes for email and status updates, which is definitely problematic.


Submitted by Mark (not verified) - on August 04, 2010 at 09:20 am

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas