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Smartphones are sucking the fun out of leisure time

Our company’s Leisure eNewsletter and this blog have been giving continuing coverage to the disruptive impact digital technology is having on location-based entertainment (LBE) including data on how the use of digital technology both at home and on mobile screens is taking leisure time and discretionary spending market share away from LBEs.

Now along comes research that indicates a new type of disruption – that the use of digital technology, and more specifically the smartphone, is actually decreasing the fun many people have during the leisure time when you aren’t on the phone, included at LBEs.

Researchers at Kent State University surveyed a random sample of 454 undergraduates and examined how different types of cell phone users experience daily leisure. They measured each person’s total daily smartphone use, personality, and experience of daily leisure. Students were categorized into three distinct groups based on similar patterns of smartphone use and personality: low-use extroverts, low-use introverts, and a high-use group who averaged more than 10 hours per day of smartphone time (about 25% of the sample).

Compared to the two low-use groups, this high-use group experienced considerably more leisure distress – feeling uptight, stressed and anxious during free time.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the low-use extrovert group averaged only three hours of smartphone use per day and showed the least boredom and distress and greatest tendency to challenge themselves during leisure time.

The researchers suggest that for all those who feel the need to check their phones incessantly, the issue may not be that they enjoy their phones more than others do; rather, the obsessive habit could demonstrate a need to stay connected, an obligation to remain in the know — which ultimately spills over into their leisure time.

“In our previously published research, we found that high-frequency cell phone users often described feeling obligated to remain constantly connected to their phones,” one of the researchers said. “This obligation was described as stressful, and the present study suggests the stress may be spilling over into their leisure.”

So it’s bad enough that smartphones are taking leisure time and spending entertainment market share away from LBEs. Now we learn that at least for one segment of the population, the highly addicted smartphone user, it is contaminating their enjoyment of other leisure time activities, including time spent in an LBE and accordingly decreasing the perceived value of attending.

About Randy White

Randy White is CEO and co-founder of the White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group. The 31-year-old company, with offices in Kansas City, Missouri, has worked for over 600 clients in 37 countries throughout the world. Projects the company has designed and produced have won seventeen 1st place awards. Randy is considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on feasibility, brand development, design and production of leisure experience destinations including entertainment, eatertainment, edutainment, agritainment/agritourism, play and leisure facilities.

Randy was featured on the Food Network's Unwrapped television show as an eatertainment expert, quoted as an entertainment/edutainment center expert in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and Time magazine and received recognition for family-friendly designs by Pizza Today magazine. One of the company's projects was featured as an example of an edutainment project in the book The Experience Economy. Numerous national newspapers have interviewed him as an expert on shopping center and mall entertainment and retail-tainment.

Randy is a graduate of New York University. Prior to repositioning the company in 1989 to work exclusively in the leisure and learning industry, White Hutchinson was active in the retail/commercial real estate industry as a real estate consultancy specializing in workouts/turnarounds of commercial projects. In the late 1960s to early 1980s, Randy managed a diversified real estate development company that developed, owned and managed over 2.0 million square feet of shopping centers and mixed-use projects and 2,000 acres of residential subdivisions. Randy has held the designations of CSM (Certified Shopping Center Manager) and Certified Retail Property Executive (CRX) from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

He has authored over 150 articles that have been published in over 40 leading entertainment/leisure and early childhood education industry magazines and journals and has been a featured speaker and keynoter at over 40 different conventions and trade groups.

Randy is the editor of his company's Leisure eNewsletter, has a blog and posts on Twitter and Linkedin.

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