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More people using TV and tablets at same time

A new global survey from Nielsen finds more people busying themselves with their tablets and smartphones while sitting in front of the TV.


Do you check e-mail while you watch TV? If so, you're far from alone.

Nielsen's fourth-quarter poll of mobile users in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Italy discovered that people are increasingly checking e-mail or searching for program or product information on their tablets and phones while watching TV.

In the United States, 88 percent of tablet owners and 86 percent of smartphone owners said they used their device at least once while watching TV over the prior 30 days. Almost half (45 percent) of tablet users said that they use their device in front of the TV on a daily basis. And 25 percent said they do it several times a day.

Among smartphone owners, 41 percent said they use their phone while tuned into the TV at least once every day.

Those in the United Kingdom also had a habit of multitasking. Among folks in the U.K., 80 percent of tablet owners and 78 percent of smartphone owners admitted to using their devices and TVs at the same time. And almost a quarter said they do it several times a day.

Those in Italy and German were slightly more focused on one task at a time. In both countries, 29 percent of those polled said they never watch TV and use a tablet together, while 34 percent of Italians and 35 percent of Germans said they don't mix their smartphone usage with their TV viewing.

Among all of those polled, checking e-mail proved to be the most popular task during a show or a commercial. But a fair number also used their mobile devices to research information related to the show or check out products advertised on TV.

I'm sure a lot of us can relate to this study. We live in a time when multitasking seems to have become the norm, especially with the prevalence of mobile devices.

How many of us check our smartphones when we should be focusing on the task at hand--not necessarily just watching TV but while eating dinner, being with family and friends, or even worse, driving in traffic?

Sometimes we just need to try to put the phone or tablet aside for awhile and train our brains to stick with one thing at a time.