Communication revolves around the five senses. We get the data needed for perception from sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

Touch is the first sense we acquire, and literally connects us. So it’s revealing to consider what we really touch the most as we go about our day.

Start with something we touch, on average, about 2,000-3,000 times daily. That’s about 2-3 times a minute over 16 hours (leaving sleep time aside).

Have you guessed? It’s our face. Think of how often you stroke your chin, rest your hand against your cheek, scratch your nose or ears, brush your hair away, rub your eyes, cover your mouth, etc. It happens unconsciously, way more than we realize. Just watch anyone and start counting.

Since our face is attached, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at how often we touch it. Yet judging by the numbers we’re almost exactly as attached to something else.

There are varying reports on how often people use their phones. Apple says its users unlock their iPhones 80 times a day. Facebook’s head of marketing reports that the average adult checks their phone 30 times a day, and millennials do it 150 times.

Even that doesn’t tell the whole story.

A company called dscout, which does research with mobile users, studied the full landscape of our phone use. Over five days, they used a tool to track all the interactions of a diverse sample of smartphone users. Not just any time they picked up the device. But each tap, type, swipe, scroll and click.

Their average number of touches per day: 2,617. That adds up to almost 1 million touches per year.

The heaviest smartphone users, in the top 10%, had twice as many touches: 5,427 per day.

The average user spent almost 2½ hours per day with phone screen time – messaging, social media, Internet searches, shopping, gaming, etc. – and the heavy users racked up 3¾ hours. I bet I fall in there somewhere, without even realizing where the time goes.

All of that time has to supplant something. Michael Winnick, CEO of dscout, wondered if tactile interactions with the phone are replacing the actual human touch. And if so, is that okay? As Winnick writes, “we’re just scratching the surface”.

I’m not sure if he meant to be sarcastic.

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based freelance writer, who helps clients’ products, services, ideas and organizations to come alive. Follow me on Twitter @StuartFoxman, connect with me here on LinkedIn, or check me out at I would love to hear from you. More articles like this coming, with original posts every week about communications, writing, branding, creativity, media, marketing, persuasion, messages, etc., etc.

June 14, 2017


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