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Surprise! We’re supremely dependent on our smartphones

Bank of America has finally confirmed what we’ve known all along — Americans are collectively in a codependent (or rather, just dependent) relationship with their smartphones. As per the results of the company’s third annual Trends in Consumer Mobility Report, Bank of America found that consumers have displayed an “overwhelming reliance on devices to navigate everyday life,” and moreover, that mobile devices have only increased their impact “on our closest relationships and daily interactions, which many admit is most often with their smartphone.” So sure, we may be more connected than ever, but it’s probably to that five-inch screen rather than to any sentient being.

According to the financial institution, millennials (defined here as those between the ages of 18 and 34) are by far the most dependent upon their smartphones, with 39 percent interacting with their mobile devices more than anything or anyone else. But even older Americans display similar behavior — in fact, 15 percent are twice as likely to be interacting with their smartphone than with their children. Yikes.

Indeed, part of our dependency upon our mobile devices may be their relative ubiquity — well over half (59 percent) of consumers say they have more than one mobile device, and almost one in four note that they own at least three such devices. And while most Americans don’t seem thrilled by the fact that smartphones have dominated our lives, this hasn’t changed our behavior. This may be because most people think of themselves as the exception to the rule — 56 percent say that others are on their smartphones too much, but only 17 percent would say the same about themselves. 55 percent say they are mindful of their own mobile manners, but claim that only 18 percent of others are as polite.

And of course, so great is our love for our smartphones that separation from these devices leads to quite a bit of anxiety. Particularly among young millennials, being away from their smartphone leads to negative emotions like worry, boredom, and fear of missing out.

So what does this mean moving forward? According to 71 percent of survey respondents, “children under the age of 18 will communicate less in person over the next decade,” and separately, 39 percent of participants say they will only be shopping online or on their smartphone. And given that 61 percent of consumers say they’re likely to use emerging payment methods like mobile wallets, peer-to-peer payments, and other such technology for financial interactions, over time, we could also be looking at a cashless society.

For more trends, check out the full Bank of America report here.

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