Americans are spending more time in the bathroom, but they’re not alone in there. And they’re not wasting time, according to a survey conducted by market-research firm Lab42 and sponsored by Delta Faucet: ninety percent multitask with a mobile device while they’re in there, whether reading, responding to email, playing video games, updating Twitter feeds, checking blogs or doing any of the myriad things it is possible on a touch-screen.
The result won’t be news to datacenter or IT veterans who frequent Reddit, Slashdot or other user-supplied news-aggregation sites, or whose end users are frequent contributors. However, others could be surprised at their neighbors’ need to compute from the commode. The survey found that younger people (those aged 25 to 34, in this case) are twice as likely as those 45 and older to spend at least 10 minutes at a time powdering their noses.
Surveys of mobile users have shown consistently that younger employees have stronger preferences about their choice of computing device, with most strongly preferring smartphones or tablets as their primary “computer.” The younger they are, the more likely mobile workers are to text, email or socially network with anyone at any time, without regard to whether the activity is work, play or socializing, whether their physical location is at home or at work, or whether there is a significant volume of porcelain nearby at the time.
While the survey focused on how often Americans use Web services “while on their own home toilet,” and not while they’re at work, it’s safe to extrapolate the same set of behaviors (most of them, anyway) to office rest rooms as well as those at home.
Delta’s analysis focused on the conclusion that, if Americans were spending more time computing on the toilet, they would need more comfortable toilets. The company made a number of recommendations along those lines, some of them very environmentally sensitive.
It is possible that any technologist’s analysis would revolve around the security risk of using unencrypted WiFi or cellular networks from inside a public restroom, or the chance a device with critical information might be forgotten on a countertop while employees are washing their hands before returning to work.
It is more likely that any technologist who is not too busy avoiding any admission of personal commode-computing would focus instead on issues of sanitation, including the need to support end users coming in with unresponsive mobile devices that “fell in a puddle,” “slipped into the sink” or had other fluid-related mishaps.