Mobile phones while watching TV: How do you use yours?

February 16, 2024

As part of our sponsorship of Gogglebox, we’ve been looking into how people use their phones while watching telly. And, turns out, it can actually be good for you.

So get comfy on the nearest sofa and let’s jump into what we discovered.

Cold hard stats

First, the statistics.

Unsurprisingly, 3 out of 4 of us use our phones while watching TV. The most popular activities include Googling actors to find out more about them (42%), fact-checking historical events from the show (38%), and catching up on what happened previously on the show (19%). Who hasn’t asked Siri how old their favourite actor is?

We also found that, on average, people reach for their phone 8 times during a 30-minute show. It seems that even while we’re gripped by our favourite box sets, peeking at our phones is all too tempting.

Second screening is good for the soul

The most shocking thing revealed by our study was that using your phone while watching TV - or second screening - has its benefits.

Of those who live by themselves, 77% said they use their phone while watching TV to connect with friends and family about the shows they’re watching. And 1 in 3 said that this helps them feel less alone.

According to Behaviourial Psychologist, Emma Kenny, second screening allows us to share a virtual living room with those we’re away from.

“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.”

You are what you scroll

Another part of our study had us uncovering mobile phoneisms – personality traits based on how people use their phones. Check them out below – we’re sure at least one of them will ring true for you.

Dad Mode 

Definition: The unique way dads use their phones.

The key behaviour of ‘Dad Mode’ is minimum, or, arguably, maximum efficiency interaction. If you’re on the receiving end of ‘Dad Mode’ you might just get a thumbs up response to absolutely everything you send, or, if you’re lucky, a one-word answer. There’s no mincing of words here. 

Think Arnold Schwarzenegger over Shakespeare.


Definition: When you send an inappropriate emoji by mistake 

We’ve all fallen foul of receiving or sending an Inapproprimoji — usually with funny or sometimes embarrassing results. Who knew the innocent aubergine would have become world-wide sexy shorthand or that the finger emojis could be so easily confused (careful!). Apparently not everyone speaks fluent emoji — and we’re here for the hilarity.

P.S. Don’t do a Jenny and think that 💩 is an emoji for a brown bun. Very very different Jenny.


Definition: The weird ways people communicate on their phones.  

Have you got that one friend who responds to absolutely everything with a laughing emoji? Or maybe you’ve got a relative who likes to abbreviate as much as possible, leaving you in a never-ending guessing game of ‘but what does that mean?’ Lol fr idk.  

Whether you’re the GOAT at communicating in memes, love to leave a rambling voice note or send loads

of separate


when you

really could’ve just sent one.  

We’ve all got our own weird, wonderful, sometimes slightly mind-boggling Phlanguage that’s unique to us and our nearest and dearest.  

The Pillowswiper 

Definition: Reaching for your phone as soon as you wake up

Doing the morning scroll before you’ve lifted your head off the pillow? Checking the news, your emails or WhatsApp messages before your feet hit the floor? You might just be a Pillowswiper.  

Maybe, like Sid Siddiqui, you’re catching up on what happened during the night on your sleep app. Maybe you’re showing your dating app matches some love or gearing up to actually leave the comfort of your bed (we know it’s hard sometimes). Whatever your Pillowswiping style — you enjoy that horizontal screen time.  


Definition: Always talking in text speak

Textalingo is a major player in the world of Phlanguage. Why say something in full words when you can bunch a load of letters together faster than you can say TLDR*.  

Some of our favourites:

*TDLR = Too long, didn’t read

IMHO = In my honest opinion

GOAT = Greatest of all time

YNK = You never know

ICYMI = In case you missed it

TNTL = Trying not to laugh

LOL = Laughing out loud  

For damage limitation purposes, maybe remind the older generation every now and again of the meanings (e.g. LOL doesn’t mean ‘Lots of love’). Textalingo can be a dangerous but funny old game sometimes...


Definition: Spending time on the toilet on your phone.  

Reaching for your phone before you reach for the loo roll? You could be Throning.  

Throning is reading-a-book-on-the-bog, 21st century style. But whereas before it might just have been your Uncle David or your Dad reaching for the loo time literature (random books and mags at the ready!), it seems we’re all at it these days. More of us than ever seem to love a good scroll on the throne or phone time before the flush.  

Just remember... make sure your phone is out of that back pocket before you bend.

The Monologger 

Definition: Someone who always sends voice memos instead of messages.

Voice memos are a quick and easy way of chatting. But ever received one when out and about without your headphones?

You’ve been struck by the Monologger.

When 4 or 5 voice memos are waiting for you, you wonder if they should’ve just phoned instead.

The Text Door Neighbour 

Definition: Someone who texts, even when they’re with the person they’re texting.

Ever text your housemate even when they’re only in the next room? You might be a Text Door Neighbour.

You could call it laziness, but we prefer to think of it as maximising efficiency. Why waste those calories moving or speaking when you can let your thumbs do the hard work?

Screen Saviour Mode  

Definition: Pretending to not see someone by looking at your phone.

You’re doing your weekly shop, and look who’s appeared round the corner – your ex from secondary school.

Quick, pull out your phone and look busy.

You’ve activated Screen Saviour Mode. Now walk right on by like you definitely didn’t lock eyes.


Definition: Sending a message to the wrong group chat. 

You type your rant about how your boss is being a pain and hit send. 

5 minutes go by, and you get a reply. From your boss. 

You’ve WhoopsApped.

The Loud Speaker 

Definition: Someone who’s always on loudspeaker. 

Everyone knows a Loud Speaker. Someone who takes all their calls on loudspeaker. On the tube. At the office. Any time. Any place.

Holding their phones like contestants on The Apprentice, they're oblivious to the fact that everyone can hear what they're talking about.

They're in their own little world – and boy can we hear it.

The Scroll Hole  

Definition: Scrolling so much that you can’t stop.

Ever checked the time then opened TikTok, then checked the time again and 2 hours have gone by?

You’ve fallen down a Scroll Hole.

It seems we’re a nation of second-screeners. And as we’ve learned, that’s no bad thing. However you use your phone, be sure to tune in to Gogglebox on Fridays, 9PM, on Channel 4.

We’ll be watching too, phone firmly in hand.

Couple Scrolls

Definition: Quality scrolling time with your partner.

We’ve all been there – lying in bed at night while scrolling through the latest TikToks with our partners. 

Or maybe we’re out for dinner and can’t help but scroll through our socials while waiting for our food to arrive.

Tragic or romantic? Scroll mates or soul mates?

The Secret Scroller

Definition: Someone who scrolls in secret because they should be doing something else.

Ever pulled out your phone at work to check the score or swipe through your socials? Or maybe that 2-hour Teams call is struggling to keep your attention.

You’re a secret scroller.

Don’t worry – we won’t tell.


Definition: When you show someone a photo and they start swiping.

Ever got sweating palms when you’ve shown someone a photo on your phone and they’ve started swiping?

You’ve got swipe-xiety.

We’re not suggesting you have anything to hide, but we’d recommend making use of those hidden folder options.

Don’t miss Gogglebox

It seems we’re a nation of second-screeners. And as we’ve learned, that’s no bad thing. However you use your phone, be sure to tune in to Gogglebox on Fridays, 9PM, on Channel 4.

We’ll be watching too, phone firmly in hand.