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Smartphone Users Play Games to Relieve Stress

Mobile gamers spend just 0 to 30 minutes daily with the activity

Exercise, relaxation and music are some common suggestions for how to relieve stress. But an October 2013 study by Smashing Ideas found another stress reliever: smartphone gaming. Half of the survey’s respondents cited stress relief as their reason for playing smartphone games, the No. 1 response.

Broken out by gender, reasons for gaming were evenly spread for the most part. The biggest gap was in respondents’ reasons for playing with friends—and were aligned with typical gender stereotypes. Nearly one in five US females said they played smartphone games to interact with friends and family, compared with just 14% of male respondents. Males' No. 1 reason for playing with pals, on the other hand, was fueled by competition, with 16% of men saying they played because they liked to outrank their friends.

Though traveling was the second most popular reason for gaming among respondents, Smashing Ideas found that US mobile gamers were mostly turning to the activity in a common location for unwinding after a stressful day: the home. More than eight in 10 respondents said they played games on a smartphone or tablet at home. This was nearly four times more than the percentage of gamers who cited commuting, the second most popular category.

That a smartphone or tablet activity was still most common while at home, where one is usually relatively stationary, speaks volumes to mobile’s growing popularity. Looking at online gaming in general, August 2013 research by comScore Media Metrix found that more than three-quarters of time US internet users spent with such content was on mobile, with desktop claiming just 22%.

While the mobile gaming market may be expanding, time spent with the activity is limited. Among US smartphone and tablet gamers, the top amount of time spent playing smartphone or tablet games daily was just 0 to 30 minutes, according to Smashing Ideas.

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