- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed people to spend time on smartphones like never before with social media applications trumping all else, according to a new study from Global Wireless Solutions

GWS found the time users spent on social media apps rose 25% between March 2020 and February 2021, according to its opt-in panel survey of 75,000 to 100,000 U.S. consumers using Android smartphones. Users spent more than an hour per day on average on social media, which accounted for the greatest amount of time users spent doing anything on their phones, per the new report. 

“When coronavirus took hold, smartphones became further cemented as a link between isolated consumers and the world at large, thus their usage is increasingly becoming an accurate reflection of human behavior on the whole,” said Paul Carter, Global Wireless Solutions founder, in a statement. “We expect that sustained consumer mobile behavior changes will have a lasting effect on how consumers engage with businesses over the long term and will be a major aspect to establishing what normal looks like now.”

The biggest losers GWS observed were in the fantasy and betting arenas. The time spent on ESPN Fantasy, the sports network’s fantasy gaming platform, dropped 38% while time on the fantasy sports and betting platform DraftKings dipped 37%, according to GWS.

Finance and trading platforms captured users’ attention at a faster rate than other apps, up 63%, driven in part by sports gaming users turning their focus to finance and trading apps, the study found. 

“While consumers flocked to day trading and crypto trading apps, financial hardship was evident through massive usage growth of food stamp mobile apps,” said Global Wireless Solutions. “Every generation increased time spent on finance apps, with Gen Z leading the charge more than doubling the amount of time they spent checking out their finances (102%) and, in particular, their investments (127%).”

The new report also observed that time spent on ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft plummeted 61% and 40% respectively, but that users increased their attention on food delivery applications as they moved around less because of coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by government nationwide.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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