Yesterday, a survey was published that chronicled the huge impact smartphones have made in our lives in the past decade.

I am well aware of course, that for every negative story about smartphones, there will probably be one positive story highlighting how a smartphone enabled someone to be rescued from a grizzly bear in Alaska (perhaps by using a translation app that caused the bear to think it was communicating with a hybrid-looking, fellow bear). I jest of course, but the truth is, the technology that feels like it is emerging every single day is truly astonishing at times.

As you will have guessed however, some of the facts I am about to present to you below will be more inclined to suggest we need less, not more of the influence that smartphones have brought into our world.

The headline and frankly, extremely shocking fact behind the proliferation of smartphone domination is this…

The average person in the UK spends more than a day a week online.

That’s right. One entire day out of seven. Or approximately 14.29% of a person’s time.

This represents a doubling of the time spent on the internet compared to ten years ago.

Here’s another shocking statistic…

One in five of all adults spend as much as forty hours a week on the internet.

Part of the reason behind this huge increase is due to the rise in use by those aged sixteen to twenty-four, who average 34.3 hours a week on the internet.

For the first time, women are spending more time online than men, fuelled by a rise in internet use by those aged 18 to 34 and the explosion in social media. They spend half an hour a week longer online than men of the same age.

The report, compiled by Ofcom, attributes a large part of the surge in time online to the rise of smartphones, which are now used by 78 per cent of the population compared with just 17 per cent in 2008, the year after the first iPhone was launched.

Here’s truly shocking (or not so shocking depending on your mobile tendencies) fact number three…

Britons are now so addicted to smartphones that they check them every twelve minutes.

The report, entitled A Decade of Digital Dependency, says 40 per cent of adults look at their mobile phone within five minutes of waking up, rising to 65 per cent of those aged under 35.

37 per cent of adults check their phones just before switching off the lights for bed, increasing to 60 per cent of under 35s.

Predictably, given the smartphone culture that has become firmly embedded in the lives of so many of us, the younger generation is the most addicted. Those aged fifteen to twenty-four spend on average, four hours a day on their smartphones, compared with 2 hours 49 minutes for all adults. The young also check their phones every 8.6 minutes, more frequently than any other age group.

While Ofcom highlights benefits such as keeping in touch with family, it cites stress and disruption to personal and family life.

“Some find themselves feeling overloaded when online or frustrated when they are not,” said Ian MacRae, director of market intelligence.

Fifteen per cent said smartphones made them feel they were always at work, 54 per cent admitted they interrupted face-to-face conversations with friends and family and 43 per cent admitted spending too much time online.

More than a third felt stressed and “cut off” without their phone and 29 per cent “lost without it” – while one in 10 said that giving it up was “liberating” or made them more productive.

But people treasure their smart phone more than any other device.

Almost half of adults said they would miss it more than TV (28 per cent) and a desktop or laptop computer (10 per cent) – a reversal of a decade ago, when 52 per cent said the TV was more important than the mobile phone (13 per cent). Among 16 to 24-year-olds, 72 per cent now say the smartphone is the device they would miss most.

Yet we spend less time making phone calls on it than ever before. Total outgoing calls on mobiles dropped by 2.5 billion minutes (1.7 per cent) in 2017 as people turned to WhatsApp and Messenger. Using it for phone calls is only considered important by 75 per cent of smartphone users compared with 92 per cent who say browsing the web is more important. It has, however, provoked a huge divide at mealtime, where using the phone was deemed inappropriate by 72 per cent of 18-34s as against 90 per cent of those aged over 55.

I took the above photo of a family who were supposedly eating together at an airport restaurant. What you can’t tell from it is how long this went on for. I was actually beginning to wonder after a while if they were travelling together or not!

So, is it really smart to use a smartphone or not? I guess the answer depends on how long you use it for.

This blog was inspired by and mostly copied from a Daily Telegraph article that I read on my laptop but could so easily have been on my smartphone. Oh the irony!

You can read the article in full here.



Paul Hatcher

I am at heart, a communicator. I love to use words, whether written or spoken and maximise those words to hopefully, bring some encouragement - literally, to put courage into the hearts & minds of those who read or hear them. In my work as an executive coach, speaker, workshop facilitator, I love also to listen...deeply, and then respond with some encouragement.