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Smartphones: The New Fixture In Bathrooms

Three-quarters of cell phone owners now conduct business while conducting business in the lavatory.

Data from a new study suggests that the majority of us are taking high-tech too far: We're using our smartphones in the bathroom, a lot.

A survey of 1,000 Americans completed by 11mark says that 74% of men and 76% of women have used their mobile phone in the bathroom. What are we doing in there? Well, 63% report they have answered a phone call, and 41% have initiated a phone call. (What is wrong with you people, is no place sacred?)

Two-thirds of respondents have read a text message in the loo (okay, I've done that, guilty), and 38% have surfed the Internet (I think I've done that, too.) The results suggest that men are more apt to smartphone-it while in the stall, as 30% say they won't go to the bathroom without their mobile phone. Only 20% of women fall into the same category. Men are also more apt to answer the call of duty while answering the call of nature, as 20% of respondents have taken work-related calls while in the bathroom, compared to 13% of women doing the same.

[ What happens when your iPhone gets nabbed on a commuter train? See Stolen iPhone Saved By iCloud. ]

How do things break down based on device? Android smartphone users are the worst restroom offenders. According to 11mark, 87% of Android users have broached bathroom etiquette, while 84% of BlackBerry users have, and 77% of iPhone users have.

BlackBerry users answer the most business calls in the lavatory, with 75% picking up the phone. Two-thirds of Android owners and 60% of iPhone owners report answering the phone in the stall. Android and iPhone users are more apt to use social networking applications, however.

Last, the study parses the data based on age. It should be no surprise that Millennials are the heaviest IT in the toilet users. A whopping 91% use their smartphones in the bathroom (remind me never to touch a young adult's smartphone for any reason). Older users are only slightly less apt to use their phone in the bathroom, with 80% of Generation X respondents and 65% of Baby Boomers ringing up as guilty.

"The writing is on the stall," says Nicole Burdette, principal, 11mark. "This study confirms what we all know – that the last private place is no longer private."

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User Rank: Strategist
2/1/2012 | 7:23:28 PM
re: Smartphones: The New Fixture In Bathrooms
Brian, I'm just an IT guy, not HR, but even here in Texas (which has much more reasonable labor laws than you find in the Northeast or West Coast), you have to be careful about firing someone. I know of more than one culprit, though my experience is limited to the men's room, but while 'Knowing is half the battle,' proving is the other half, and if you start tracking people's bathroom habits, you get into a whole 'nother 'ewww' factor. And you open yourself up to an ADA action; imagine the possibilites some lawyer would dream up!

I would love a technical solution to this particular issue, but I while I can keep WiFi out of the bathroom, I can't block wireless data. Even blocking data wouldn't stop the gamers. It is a conundrum.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2012 | 10:53:02 PM
re: Smartphones: The New Fixture In Bathrooms
@OldUberGoober - curious - if it is affecting business, aren't the top offenders known?
Brian Prince, InformationWeek/Dark Reading Comment Moderator
User Rank: Strategist
1/31/2012 | 8:10:48 PM
re: Smartphones: The New Fixture In Bathrooms
Our company (and I suspect we are part of the large majority) acutally has a significant problem with folks taking their smart phones to the toilet and playing games, surfing the web, and Facebooking. It isn't something you can really police, but an awful lot of time is being wasted. I find it hard to imagine our hourly folks clocking out to go to the potty, but if things get worse, it could come to that. What an ugly picture...
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