Deodorant, TV, Smartphones and Thou

Study says most can’t go a day without their digital device

By Aliah D. Wright Jul 2, 2014

People ages 18 to 24 say their smartphone is more important than their toothbrush.

The devices are so important that one in two Americans say they consider them as equally important as deodorant, TV, and more crucial than a cup of Joe, according to a study that analyzed broad mobile trends and the banking behaviors of U.S. adults who own smartphones.

“Mobile connectivity is so critical, the smartphone falls below only the Internet and personal hygiene when ranked by importance to people’s daily lives,” according to Bank of America’s Trends in Consumer Mobility Report. You can see an infographic with the report’s highlights here.

But that’s not all:

  • 93 percent of Millennials ages 18-24 say their smart device is more important than their toothbrush.
  • 91 percent of all adults say their mobile phone is just as critical as their car.
  • 91 percent of all adults say it’s equally as important as deodorant.
  • 76 percent of all adults say it’s significantly more important than television (sorry, HBO).
  • 60 percent of all adults say their mobile device is more important than coffee.

What’s more, 44 percent of all cellphone users sleep with their phones on their beds; and 29 percent say their phone is “something they can’t do without.”

Older adults view their Internet and mobile phone usage as important, too. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 77 percent of adults age 65 and older have cellphones.

“Mobile phones have changed the way we live our daily lives, and that extends to our finances,” said Marc Warshawsky, senior vice president and mobile solutions executive at Bank of America, in a news statement. “Bank of America now has more than 15 million active mobile banking users who access their accounts on a mobile device more than 165 million times per month,” he said.

In an interview at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2014 Annual Conference & Exposition in Orlando, Fla., Will Staney, who heads global recruiting for Glassdoor, said 48 percent of the traffic to Glassdoor’s website comes from mobile devices. And according to Glassdoor research, nine out of 10 job seekers look for jobs from mobile devices. In fact, “45 percent of job seekers say they use their mobile device specifically to search for jobs at least once a day, up two percentage points in less than a year,” according to Glassdoor’s May 2014 report State of Mobile Job Search Survey.

Use Devices Productively

Experts say policy can help employees focus on their jobs and not spend too much time on their devices.

“While at work, employees are expected to refrain from excessive personal use of cellular phones, computers and PDAs,” Penny Morey wrote recently for Morey is managing director of the consultancy RemarkAbleHR Inc.

SHRM has many sample policies on its site, including a cellphone use policy stating “employees may carry and use personal cellphones while at work on a sporadic basis. If employee use of a personal cellphone causes disruptions or loss in productivity, the employee may become subject to disciplinary action per company policy.”

Additional Findings

According to the Bank of America report:

  • 35 percent of respondents say they constantly check their phones.
  • 26 percent check their phones a few times daily.
  • 13 percent hardly ever check their phones.
  • 16 percent check their phones once every hour.
  • 8 percent check their phones in the morning and evening.

Respondents also rated other people’s most annoying mobile habits:

  • Checking a phone while driving (38 percent).
  • Oversharing, either by talking too loudly in public (15 percent) or posting too many details on social media (15 percent).
  • Checking a mobile phone during meal times (7 percent), although 30 percent of people do so, according to a study by Lookout Mobile Security.

Other observations about mobile phone user habits from the Bank of America survey:

  • 79 percent of respondents say they’d give up chocolate or alcohol to regain access to their mobile phone.
  • 79 percent said they were concerned about losing their personal contacts and their identity and security information if they lost their mobile device.
  • 60 percent of respondents said they would be comfortable with a fingerprint scan/swipe security feature to gain access to their mobile banking app by 2016; 32 percent said they were comfortable with retina scans and 33 percent said they were comfortable with voice recognition (33 percent) as security measures.

Bank of America conducted the report in May 2014, surveying 1,000 respondents over the age of 18.

Aliah D. Wright is a manager/online editor for SHRM Online.


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