According to Ofcom, after 10 years of smartphone ownership we are now so addicted that we have to get our digital fix every 12 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, the younger generation were likely to be the most addicted. Those aged between 15 and 24 spent, on average, four hours each day on the phone, with adults overall clocking in an average of 2 hours 49 minutes. Youngsters were found to check their phone every 8.6 minutes.
Ofcom’s report, A Decade of Digital Dependency found that 40% of adults looked at their phone within five minutes of waking up, while 65% of under 35-years-old did the same. Likewise, 37% of adults checked their phone before bedtime, rising to 60% among youngsters.
Overall, smartphone owners spend an average of 24 hours per week online. This is twice as long as ten years ago, with an astonishing one-in-five adults spending as much as 40 hours per week online. 43% admitted they spent too much time online.
With an estimated 78% of the population now smartphone owners, Ofcom highlighted the benefits of our devices, such as keeping in touch with family. However it cited the stress and disruption to personal and family life it also brings.
15% of those surveyed said their smartphone made them feel they were always at work and over half admitted to interrupting real-time conversations with their phone. But we still cling to old-fashioned notions with 72% of those aged 18-34 saying that using your phone at mealtime was inappropriate and 90% of those over the age of 55-years-old.
A sure sign of addiction came with the revelation that more than a third questioned felt stressed and ‘cut off’ without their phone and 29% ‘lost without it.’ A brave 10% said they actually felt liberated without it and made them more productive.
It is clear that our smartphone is treasured more than any other device. More than a quarter said they would miss it more than their TV, while 10% said it was more important than a laptop or computer.
Despite the fact it is still considered a phone we spend less and less time actually making calls. Total outgoing calls on smartphones dropped by 2.5 billion minutes in 2017. The growth of WhatsApp and Messenger were seen as the main culprits in the decline.
Ofcom’s latest report comes with little surprise as the evidence is all around us. If the definition of addiction is a persistent and compulsive dependence, then surely, we are now bona fide smartphone addicts.
Image: Marc Smith