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Americans are spending more time on media thanks to multitasking

Not all media is equal.

Steve Jobs unveils new software for iPhone and iPad back in 2008.
Steve Jobs unveils new software for iPhone and iPad back in 2008.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

This year the average U.S. adult will spend two more minutes per day consuming media than they did in 2016 — and about two hours more than they spent a decade ago, according to updated data from research firm eMarketer.

There aren’t more hours in the day, but Americans are doing more things at once. When we’re watching TV or listening to the radio, we’re also on our phones checking social media and communicating with friends. Note that this data measures time spent on each activity separately, even when people multitask and do two at once. Additionally, non-media activities, like hanging out with friends in person, are increasingly becoming media activities, such as chatting with them on social media.

The media we spend our time on is also changing. Regular TV is still the biggest average time suck, with Americans currently watch for about four hours per day, 33 percent of our media budget. That’s followed closely by time spent on mobile (three hours and 17 minutes per day or 27 percent of total media time in 2017), which is steadily growing. Time spent on mobile and on other connected devices (including digital streaming on connected TVs and over-the-top services like Netlfix) is making up for the time Americans no longer spend watching TV or using computers.

Chart of time individuals in the U.S. spend on different media

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