The scenario is likely familiar to many: Shopping for new shoes, texting with your BFF and flipping through that DVR-ed episode of The Voice–all at the same time. As such, the news shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who owns such a gadget but a new study shows that 88 percent percent of smartphone and tablet users watch TV while also using their handheld digital device.
Call it multi-tasking or, perhaps, multi-playing. According to a Q4 2011 Nielsen survey of connected device owners in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, most users juggle numerous activities–checking e-mail, watching TV, texting, shopping–at the same time.
In the U.S., for example, 88 percent of surveyed tablet owners and 86 percent of smartphone users said they used their gadgets while watching TV at least once during a 30-day period. For some–45 percent of tablet users–such multi-tasking is a daily event while 26 percent of tablet users said they engaged in both activities several times a day.
Likewise, American smartphone users logged numerous tasks–though not as much as their tablet-using counterparts–with 41 percent of those surveyed claiming to use their phone at least once a day while also watching TV.
Numbers across the pond showed similar trends. In the U.K., for example, 80 percent of tablet users and 78 percent of smartphone users said they multi-tasked; 24 percent said they used their device several times a day while also watching TV.
Meanwhile, those surveyed in Italy and Germany are significantly less likely to juggle activities; 29 percent of those surveyed in both countries said they never used a tablet and TV together while 34 percent of Italians and 25 percent of Germans said they didn’t use a smartphone while watching TV.
Wherever the user, how he or she multi-tasks is just as revealing as the amount of time spent doing it. In addition to regularly checking e-mail while watching TV, according to the Nielsen report, many users also engage in “second screen” activities–looking up content related to the shows or movies on their screen or, similarly, surfing for information related to products advertised in commercials.