Remote control in one hand, smartphone in the other: Using a phone while watching TV found to have positive benefits

  • New research from Three UK reveals 77 percent of Brits who live on their own will use a smartphone while watching TV (second-screening) to communicate with loved ones about what they’re watching, and nearly 1 in 3 Brits say using their phone while watching TV helps them feel less alone
  • From ‘Textroverts’ to ‘Couple Scrollers’ – Three has teamed up with Behavioural Psychologist, Emma Kenny, to uncover a list of Mobile Phoneisms that personify how Brits are using their phones when on the sofa
  • The research has been commissioned as Three marks its partnership with Gogglebox, which airs its new series on Channel 4 this week


From connecting with loved ones over a shared interest to learning more about historical facts, new research from Three UK, the UK’s fastest 5G network* has found that contrary to popular belief, using smartphones while watching TV (‘second screening’) provides positive benefits. The study, commissioned to mark its partnership with Gogglebox, delved into why Brits ‘second-screen’ after nearly 3 in 4 (72 percent) admitted to using their smartphone every time they sit down and turn on the TV.


According to the research, for many who live on their own, ‘second-screening’ is used to connect with loved ones about the programme they’re watching (77 percent), with nearly 1 in 3 (30 percent) saying that using their phone while watching TV helps them feel less alone. Interestingly, this behaviour was shared with those who don’t live on their own, with over a quarter (26 percent) noting that TV programmes and films provide common interests to bond over – even when not watching from the same location.

According to the research, 45 percent of the nation will keep their phones with them at all times, and on average, we’ll reach for our phones eight times during a 30-minute TV show. Half of Brits (50 percent) said the most common thing they use their phone for is browsing the internet, and when on the sofa, top search items are ‘Googling’ the actors to find out more about them (42 percent) – a stat that increases by 14 percent for people who live with friends; fact-checking historical events from the show (38 percent) – most common amongst 18-24 year olds (44 percent); and reminding themselves of what happened in the previous season of a TV programme (19 percent).


Across the country, there were also standout second-screening behaviours in different regions. For instance, compared to the rest of the nation, Scots are the ones who most frequently sit in front of the TV with their partner and quietly scroll through their phones (47 percent v 34 percent), whilst those in Yorkshire are the most prolific when it comes to ‘Googling’ about actors (50 percent v 42 percent) and Londoners are most likely to second-second to feel less alone when at home on their own (18 percent v 12 percent).


Finally, the study revealed that we’re a nation who are guilty of loving a spoiler, as 17 percent will second screen to find out the storyline whilst watching a TV programme.

Despite all the positives that come with second-screening, on the flipside, nearly 1 in 3 (32 percent) say second-screening can be a distraction from what they’re watching, whilst others noted they have had their viewing experience ruined due to someone sending them a message with a spoiler (15 percent).

Behaviour Psychologist, Emma Kenny, commented: “Our phones now represent a community of vital connections that enable us to feel part of our wider community and social-network. The second screen experience is evidence of our changing relationship with technology, where we can utilise our handsets to connect us in a range of positive ways. We now have the ability to share virtual space, conversations, and information in real time, promoting close bonds, and building wider social-networks.”

Along with why, Three worked with Emma Kenny to uncover – Mobile Phoneisms – centred around how we’re using our phones when in front of the TV and beyond:

  • The Textrovert – Brits who dodge phone calls because they’re watching a TV or film so text instead
  • The Couple Scroller – Couples who sit in front of the TV and scroll on their own phones
  • The Text Door Neighbour – Those who message someone in the same house to avoid interrupting the TV or film they’re watching
  • The Loud Speaker – People who have a loved one on loud speaker as they watch something together
  • The Monologger – People who communicate via voice notes to convey their shock, anger, and excitement about something they’re watching
  • Swipe-xiety – People who get the ‘fear’ when they show someone a photo and they start swiping on their camera roll
  • The Screen Saviour Mode – Those who pretend to be on their phone to look busy
  • The WhoopsApper – The ones who are always messaging the wrong person or group chat
  • The Scroll Holer – Brits who scroll so much that it becomes impossible to stop
  • The Secret Scroller – Those who scroll in secret as they should be doing something else


Aislinn O’Connor, Director of Marketing across the UK & Ireland at Three UK said, “At Three, we understand that sharing everyday moments is at the heart of human connection. So, it seems only natural that this now extends to our TV watching habits. With the UK’s fastest 5G, just like the Gogglebox cast members, our customers can quickly share and comment on those must-see TV moments which we know is vital to their viewing experience. We’re thrilled to be sponsoring this much-loved show and can’t wait to tune in for the new series.”


Fan favourite Sophie confessed to being the ‘Scroll Holer’ saying: “I can sit down with a cup of tea and just go on Instagram, next minute, it’s dark outside, three hours have passed and my brew’s stone cold…”

Brother Pete, on the other hand, confessed to being the ‘WhoopsApper’ responding: “The thing is, if you have made a little whoopsie, it’s about the speed of deletion. I’ve fallen foul of this in the past where instead of pressing delete for everyone, I’ve pressed delete for me. And then once you’ve pressed that there’s then no way of going back to then delete it for everyone… I’ve been hacked!”

To find out which Mobile Phoneisms you associate with, check out and be sure to catch more content of the cast and their behaviours on Three’s Instagram channel and tune into Channel 4 this Friday for the latest season of Gogglebox.

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