The Positive Effect of Americans' Love for Gadgets


Photo By Luke Wroblewski via Flickr

Some 238 million mobile phones and 140 million tablets are used in the United States and they are rarely shut down, showing that Americans are even more infatuated with devices. This has led to fears by environmentalists of an electronic nightmare as they continue to consume higher volumes of resources.

Data, however, show that it's not happening and the fear is unfounded.

With the advent of mobile phones and tablets, there has also been a shift from big devices like tube televisions and personal computers to smaller mobile devices that consume less electricity and resources so it's even greener.

A new study done for the Consumer Technology Association shows that there are fewer electronic devices now than there were four years ago.

This may surprise many but the tablets replaced the secondary TV and its set-top box. Tablets also replaced the laptop computer, while smartphones eliminated them altogether.

The study shows that there's been a 25-percent reduction in the total energy consumed by these gadgets since 2010 as they use very little electricity. In comparison, America's 284 million TVs use 35 time more electricity than the 238 million smartphones, while the 113 million clock radios use more electricity than 140 million tablets. Also, there's a lesser number of TVs being used in American households today with 284 million appliances compared to 353 million in 2010. 

The gadgets not only consume lesser electricity but also, in a substantial way, decrease the number of raw materials used in the electronic devices.

In a recent research led by Callie Babbitt, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, there was a decline in the total weight of consumer electronics sold in the US which peaked in 2000. However, by 2015, this figure had declined to 1993 levels even though Americans used 350 million more devices in that year.

There was a substantial loss in the use of cathode-ray tube TVs and the use of steel, aluminum, and copper which in the 1990s comprised three-quarters of the weight of American household electronics. There has likewise been a decline in e-waste volume.

There are also gadget issues like their shorter lifespan. However, manufacturers are now also addressing the issue with HP Inc. and Dell Inc. leading the way with designs that extend device lifespan and enable affordable material extraction by recyclers.