Watching TV is a fundamental part of American society today. It allows us to stay informed with news and unwind with our favorite shows and movies, or to have something on in the background for white noise. As we sit down to watch TV, what are we doing with our other devices?

According to the latest CivicScience data, the majority of TV watchers (66%) turn to a secondary screen or device (such as a tablet, phone, or laptop) as they watch TV. More (two in five) TV watchers are using a second device to scroll through various mobile apps, games, and other content, versus post on social media or text/email. 

Interestingly, looking at monthly device usage throughout 2022, TV watchers minimized their device usage in the spring and early summer months. When August rolled through, however, device usage retook the lead with mobile apps, games or other content being the primary usage.

Second screen habits differ quite dramatically among TV watchers by age.

Gen Z adults certainly value their TV time, but they’re also the most likely age group to pick up a second device while they watch, as only 11% say their other devices are put away when the TV is on. More than half (52%) of Gen Z TV-watchers are viewing mobile apps, games, or other content, while 30% are using social media.

Data show a stark contrast at the other end of the age spectrum, where roughly half (47%) of 55+ year-olds are focused entirely on their TVs rather than using another device. They are, however, the most likely age group to be texting or checking their email. 

How does the amount of TV watching affect device usage? 

Device usage tends to increase with hours of TV watched per day. Among TV watchers, people who watch TV for four to six hours a day are the most likely to use a second device and to access mobile apps, games, or other types of content. Those who watch six or more hours of TV per day are more likely to check email or text, while those who watch two or fewer hours are more likely to use their second screen for social media.

Want to see insights like these for your customers and help stay on top of their media habits over time? CivicScience can help! Book a demo.