Where are people most likely to “second screen” with mobile phones?
June 9th, 2023, Christien Pheby

Where are people most likely to “second screen” with mobile phones?

The practice of “second screening” – watching TV while using another electronic device – is over a decade old: at this point, near enough as old as smartphones themselves. But how common is it?

Global YouGov data shows that across 17 markets, a majority of consumers say they look at their mobile devices while watching TV “very” or “fairly” often. India (60%), the UAE (57%), and Australia (57%) have the highest proportion of consumers who say they frequently second-screen with smartphones, followed by Americans (55%), Britons (55%), and Danish consumers (55%).

At the other end of the scale, less than a third of the Chinese public (34%) use their phones while watching TV often, with under two in five Germans (37%) saying the same. Germans (13%) are also joint- most likely with Polish consumers (13%) to say they do not second-screen with their mobile devices at all, with Canadian (12%), French (11%), and Italian consumers (11%) close behind.

Second screening with smartphones by age

It might be easy to assume that second-screening with mobile devices is largely driven by young people. Looking at a select few markets reveals a more complicated picture.

It’s true enough that consumers aged 18-34 are more prone to second screen with smartphones than the general population; in Britain (69%), Singapore (62%), and Germany (53%) they are the group most likely to do so often.

But other nations reveal a more complicated picture. In the UAE, for example, 58% of 18-34s are frequently looking at their phones while watching TV – but so are 57% of consumers aged 35-54 and 51% of consumers aged 55 or older. And in Australia, the “middle” group of consumers aged 35-54 are actually more likely to say they often second-screen with mobile devices (72%) compared to the youngest consumers (66%). It’s a comparable story in the United States, where 60% of 35-54s and 59% of 18-34s – as well as 48% of over-55s – are looking at their phones while watching TV.

The stereotype may be that millennials and Gen-Z are phone-addled to the point where they cannot even focus on one distraction at a time. But our data ultimately shows that consumers aged 35-54 are often second-screening with mobile devices in comparable numbers – and in some markets, a significant portion of older consumers are frequently doing so too.

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YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying for each market. All surveys were conducted online in May-June 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.