, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 105-114
Date: 16 Jun 2011

Habits make smartphone use more pervasive

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Examining several sources of data on smartphone use, this paper presents evidence for the popular conjecture that mobile devices are “habit-forming.” The form of habits we identified is called a checking habit: brief, repetitive inspection of dynamic content quickly accessible on the device. We describe findings on kinds and frequencies of checking behaviors in three studies. We found that checking habits occasionally spur users to do other things with the device and may increase usage overall. Data from a controlled field experiment show that checking behaviors emerge and are reinforced by informational “rewards” that are very quickly accessible. Qualitative data suggest that although repetitive habitual use is frequent, it is experienced more as an annoyance than an addiction. We conclude that supporting habit-formation is an opportunity for making smartphones more “personal” and “pervasive.”