Nearly half of the population use secondary devices while watching TV

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Americans have a serious craving for all things media. According to the latest Nielsen Total Audience Report, adults in the US spent nearly 10.5 hours consuming media daily in the second quarter of 2018.

With a finite number of hours to work with each day, many have resorted to multitasking to get the most out of their devices and time.

When asked about simultaneous device usage (watching TV and using a digital device like a smartphone at the same time), 28 percent of respondents said they “sometimes” do so while a much larger 36 percent said they do so “very often.” Nearly 10 percent of those surveyed indicated they “always” use a digital device while watching television.

Only 19 percent of those questioned said they sometimes, very often or always use an audio device while watching TV. This makes sense considering audio requires more of a user's attention.

Nielsen’s data indicates that most – 71 percent – are using a secondary device to look up information related to the content they are watching. Additionally, 41 percent said they use digital devices to e-mail / text / message others about the content they are watching while 29 percent write / read posts about said content on social media. A full 35 percent said they use secondary devices to search for products or services being advertised on TV.

Have you adopted second screen tendencies? I’ll occasionally text a friend about something I’m watching or search for a fact but aside from this, I find it too distracting to multitask on my phone while watching TV.

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psycros

TS Evangelist
From what I've seen most people under 35 are on Facebook while watching TV..and doing everything else. I've only seen someone look up info about a program once although I know they do it a lot while their NOT viewing the show. Personally I don't get this at all. If I'm watching TV, I'm watching TV. If I'm playing a game, I'm playing a game. I don't even understand how someone can take in multiple forms of media at once. The closest I get to that is watching subtitled shows. Maybe its a generational thing: I've never seen anyone over 40 be on their phone while *really* trying watch TV, read or do anything else that requires concentration. Women seem to be a bit more guilty of second-screening but I've also heard that they are better at multi-tasking so maybe they can manage.
 
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viperfl

TS Enthusiast
If it's just a TV show, I will tend to be on my phone also. If it's a movie, I will put all my attention to the movie. It all depends on my mood.

This is really no different than the old days when people would watch TV and cook at the same time.
 
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toooooot

TS Evangelist
From what I've seen most people under 35 are on Facebook while watching TV..and doing everything else. I've only seen someone look up info about a program once although I know they do it a lot while their NOT viewing the show. Personally I don't get this at all. If I'm watching TV, I'm watching TV. If I'm playing a game, I'm playing a game. I don't even understand how someone can take in multiple forms of media at once. The closest I get to that is watching subtitled shows. Maybe its a generational thing: I've never seen anyone over 40 be on their phone while *really* trying watch TV, read or do anything else that requires concentration. Women seem to be a bit more guilty of second-screening but I've also heard that they are better at multi-tasking so maybe they can manage.
Maybe it is a generational thing. I do it because it is more fun though. Also, I think we are spoiled by great movies which keep us at the screen. Then when it is just a show o less amazing content, it is hard to give it as much attention .
 

BobHome

TS Enthusiast
I sometimes have a Chromebook with me:
- For library movies/DVDs to order any others with interesting
- For TV, email and maybe surf a bit during commercials (using Roku)
 

btfsttg

TS Rookie
From what I've seen most people under 35 are on Facebook while watching TV..and doing everything else. I've only seen someone look up info about a program once although I know they do it a lot while their NOT viewing the show. Personally I don't get this at all. If I'm watching TV, I'm watching TV. If I'm playing a game, I'm playing a game. I don't even understand how someone can take in multiple forms of media at once. The closest I get to that is watching subtitled shows. Maybe its a generational thing: I've never seen anyone over 40 be on their phone while *really* trying watch TV, read or do anything else that requires concentration. Women seem to be a bit more guilty of second-screening but I've also heard that they are better at multi-tasking so maybe they can manage.
I'm in my 60s and I am on my desktop primarily. I have 2 Shield TVs / 2 TVs in a room with my desktop powering 4 monitors. I thrive on informational overload. And <strike>beer</strike> Guinness.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
From what I've seen most people under 35 are on Facebook while watching TV..and doing everything else. I've only seen someone look up info about a program once although I know they do it a lot while their NOT viewing the show. Personally I don't get this at all. If I'm watching TV, I'm watching TV. If I'm playing a game, I'm playing a game. I don't even understand how someone can take in multiple forms of media at once. The closest I get to that is watching subtitled shows. Maybe its a generational thing: I've never seen anyone over 40 be on their phone while *really* trying watch TV, read or do anything else that requires concentration. Women seem to be a bit more guilty of second-screening but I've also heard that they are better at multi-tasking so maybe they can manage.
Multitasking is a myth - but the thought that we are multitasking increases performance. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-11-illusion-multitasking-boosts.html

That said, I want to be engaged in the media that I am watching. Even if I think that I am multitasking (as in the link above), I know I will miss something of what I am watching. My preference in fiction is intellectual/emotional. For that kind of material, not paying attention will, as I see it, contribute to my missing something.

Maybe it is more about the type of material than about multitasking. To me, there is so much mindless crap out there that if I were watching it, it would not need my full attention. I avoid what I consider mindless crap.
 

MarkHughes

TS Addict
Yep, Since owning a Commodore 64 in the late 80's, I often have something else on. Back then it was the TV in the living room with a BW TV for my C64, Later I had a TV with VHS player and Monitor for my Amiga setup and later still PC with Monitor and TV or sometimes a tablet. Now I often sit in my living room with the TV on and my laptop out.



The only time I don't is when I am coding.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
Wife does this very frequently -- fact check, historical reference lookup. I don't as the whole point to me is to ESCAPE the Internet -- why ruin a perfectly good story?