Is Your Mobile Changing Your Bedtime?

December 6, 2009

in iphone, Mobility

Who goes to bed with an iPhone? Probably almost everyone with an iPhone. No real data other than a few friends, observations and the fact that I can recognize a behavior change when it is staring me in the face. More on that later. Now this phenomena is not unique to the iPhone although I’d proffer an iPhone user is more likely to go to bed with their phone and in fact has an increasing number of reasons to.

What’s my proof point – other than me? Well seems some research says over 50% use their phones as alarm clocks. In fact it often doesn’t occur to people that they have started doing it. It’s assisted by all sorts of app alarm clocks and bedtime lights that are available. Then there is Apple’s apparent strategy that a charge a day keeps the phone by the bedside. So do you really have to take it to bed?

Many may now say you shouldn’t. You can check out posts that it ruins sex lives etc. Then maybe books do too. Or do you worry about your son or daughter sending text messages in the dark at 2:00am because they can? Perhaps you should. Kids today are just as likely to go to bed with the phone in fact the last thing they want to do is leave it around ‘unsecure’ so any parent can peek into their stream of exchanges.

I admit I’ve been going to bed with my mobile for a long time. I think the N80 was the first one that was really compelling. It had WiFi and it did an okay job on podcasts had chat clients and I also needed an alarm. The N95 didn’t take it that much further and then came the iPhone. Well now great videos, and then came the papers and the books.  Even the puzzles that can be solved. Add in tweeting, pushing delicious links and all of a sudden the home office is just about impossible to get away from. Yet it’s the reading that really got me to really think again. When my family started reading People Magazine and books on the iPhone I knew it had crossed a threshold.

Now it wasn’t just geekery and strange behavior reading was simply becoming convenient. Even more compelling you can guarantee new content every night and that’s not something that you get with a few magazine subscriptions coming through the post box.

On one level I may be laboring a point, and yet if you search “bedtime” in the app store you really don’t get that much. And yes I’ve seen the jokes about the iPhone vibrator and more. Yet that’s not really my focus. As a tool, the iPhone / mobile phones are just becoming more compelling to keep with you. Of course the flip side to going to bed with the iPhone is waking up with it in the morning. Beat your alarm… grab the phone… see the time…. and the notifications… press the slider… Oh new start to the day.

That’s important too. The time between waking up and those messages has shrunk. No longer can you wait to get to work to have your day ruined and find a pile in your inbox. Again not unique to the iPhone – Blackberry was there first for many corporate managers. So now the dammed devices not only redefine bedtime they also skate easily into that period when we used to “think” about what we were going to do today. Can’t say I know one way or the other if this makes us a more reactive society or less prone to thinking before acting. Now is this lost time, new time or just different time? No doubt that depends on context and the individual and their motivations.

I’m still inclined to think mobile is making it different. For example. I read the WSJ which is still delivered almost daily (the SF Chronicle is long gone) and concurrently supplement it with quick scans of my favorite sections on the NYTimes, BBC and others dare I say it at the breakfast table! (Am usually the only one there!) With the WSJ app open I can forward pages to Twitter etc.

So here’s a another point. I have never read the paper on a MAC or PC. That includes magazines too. I will add just about as many as I can get my hands on to my Mobile (I have some criteria but that is another story). In fact I now have the newsstand and the bookstore in the palm of my hand. I’ve watched maybe a half dozen movies on a PC in bed in the same number of years. All that stuff is just too hard.

So… What makes you take your mobile to bed?

  • If you don’t… then what little feature may just get you to do so?
  • What features or facts keep it closer to you – overnight?
  • Do you reach for your mobile overnight? Is checking the time a pain? How many times is it in your hands?
  • If you have a partner who’s mobile sets the alarm? Should alarms have a buddycheck? Eg I can check yours and you can check mine? Should they trade off on music?
  • What “remotes” can be put on the mobile?
  • Why are alarms often buried deep in the menu?
  • Are you reading in bed? Are you kindle-ing? Has an e-reader got your attention?
  • What other games are you playing? (don’t need to know everything).
  • Have you woken to a “flat mobile” and cursed? Should your mobile provide a “I’m dying” no juice left warning when an alarm is set and it cannot deliver?

I started this post because it finally clicked with me that my whole family now heads to bed with mobiles in hand and often that’s not the last thing they do with them. Yet there are probably a few more suppositions or guesses available. Like when only one has a really smart phone / pocket computer. How to share? At what point does the size of a screen really make a difference? What are shareable events / apps in such a situation?

So my mobile is changing my bedtime behavior. Is yours?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

russ nelson December 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Welcome to the modern era, stuart. Been taking my handheld to bed for a decade now. It’s my primary blog-reading time.

Ricky Cadden December 6, 2009 at 7:58 pm

I take my phone to bed with me every single night. I have a Nokia N97, and here’s why:

1. As you mention, it’s my alarm clock, however, it’s more advanced than that. Using a free application called Mobbler that ties into my Last.FM account, I set a calming station by artist (usually Nick Drake or Orba Squara), and give it a 30-60 minute sleep timer, with the volume turned down so I have background music.

I then set the alarm for whatever time, but instead choose a more rousing station, something like Andrew W.K., with the volume cranked up. This way I wake up much easier.

I also have my email set to quit checking at 11p, and resume at 5a – that way I don’t get awakened through the night by random emails, but I have them ready and waiting when I wake up.

I also use the night time on my phone to catch up on random news, or perhaps play a quick game or something – nothing too engaging.

Kokoe December 7, 2009 at 6:40 am

Games before sleep, so bedtime not too different. But an hour or two of reading has been added in the morning, replacing snooze button.

Jon Husband December 8, 2009 at 7:01 am

my whole family now heads to bed with mobiles in hand and often that’s not the last thing they do with them

Please do not elaborate … 😉

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