Adults Estimated to Spend More Time on Mobile

According to eMarketer estimates published on August 1, time spent on non-voice mobile activities will surpass time spent online on desktop and laptop computers for the first time this year. The researchers’ data indicates that mobile non-voice activities will account for 19.4% of American adults’ daily media time (up from 13.4% in 2012), which is just slightly higher than the 19.2% of media time spent going online from a computer.

What’s more, overall time spent with digital is estimated to command 43.6% of the average adult’s daily media time in 2013. In 2012, that number was at 39.1%, which was up significantly from 29.6% in 2010. Unarguably, the increasing amount of time spent with mobile phones and tablets is one major cause for such a shift. Another cause is likely that baby boomers and seniors are also spending more time on the web, according to a March 2013 study conducted by Ipsos and Google. That study found that boomers (ages 45-65) spent more time on the web than any other media channel, including TV.

2013 US Adults' Daily Consumption of Major Media

In fact, TV is estimated to hold 38.1% of daily media time in 2013. While daily time spent with radio and offline reading of print media has also decreased, to 12.1% and 4.5%, respectively.

One important note is that eMarketer’s estimates include all time spent with each medium, regardless of multitasking. That means one hour spent watching TV and social networking on a smartphone, for example, would count as one hour for both TV and mobile.

So, what are adults doing on their smartphones and tablets now that they used to do on their desktops? Social networking and digital video viewing are growing quickly on smartphones, and especially tablets. Time spent watching video on tablets, for example, will nearly double this year from 10% to 19%. And time spent social networking on smartphones has increased significantly from 10.3% in 2010 to 28.4% in 2013.

These estimates should help make it clear to brands about where best to reach their consumers. Leading with digital advertising (that’s also optimized for mobile), while allowing traditional TV and print advertising to take a more supportive role, will be key to ensuring that consumers are seeing and hearing a brand’s message now and in the future.


  1. “U.S. Time Spent on Mobile to Overtake Desktop.” eMarketer. 1 Aug. 2013.
  2. “Boomers and Seniors Favor the Web.” eMarketer. 11 Jul. 2013.