Screen time survey reveals consumers spend 50 days a year on smartphones

The majority of us are 'OK' with the amount of time we spend using mobile devices.

Nearly four out of ten people now use screen time tracking as a way to monitor their own or children’s phone usage – but it seems they’re not concerned about how long they’re spending online.

44.25 % of the 2,077 people surveyed said they were ‘definitely happy’ with the amount of time they spend looking at their phone each day, with a further 39.5% 'OK' with it.

According to the findings of a survey by Code Computerlove, the average screen time in the UK is 3 hours and 23 minutes per day – a whopping 50 days every year. This rises significantly in the 16-24 age group, who spend four hours a day on their mobiles (60 days a year).

The new report has been released in the same week that Apple confirmed that it has been removing some screen time tracking apps from the App Store because of security concerns.

Age matters

There were significant differences in the findings between age groups.

  • 60% of 16 to 25 year olds track their screen time versus just 20% of the over 50s.
  • On average 16 to 25 year olds spend an hour longer every day on their mobiles compared to the 45 and older age group (average 3 hours).
  • 16 to 25 year olds are the most unhappy with the amount of time spent on mobiles (with 26% saying they are 'not happy' with the amount of time they spend online).

Despite its ‘mobile’ element, most people use their smartphones while watching TV (64% use their mobiles in front of the telly). This was followed closely by people using their devices in bed (55%), on the bus or train (34%) and at work (33%).

Code Computerlove's managing director, Louis Georgiou, said: “Both Apple and Google now offer functionality that helps people track their screen-time and control usage habits, and other screen time tracking apps are available in the App Store. With accurate insight into how long they spend on smartphones, we wanted to delve deeper to find out what people thought about the amount of time they were actually spending on their smartphones.

“Digital wellbeing is a major industry trend for 2019, with much debate about responsible use of tech and the ethics behind digital marketing that’s designed to keep consumers engaged and online. There are also increasing reports on the negative effects of social media and internet addiction in consumer media.

“However, our findings revealed that on the whole it seems British adults are generally happy spending a whole day out of their seven day week on their phones."

Positive feelings relating to mobile also outweighed negative feelings in the report. The feeling of ‘connection’ came out as the top response (38%) followed closely by satisfaction (37%). Empowerment (16%) and gratitude (15%) were other positive emotions relating to smartphone usage. The numbers reporting negative feelings were lower - guilt (13%), anxiety (11%), shame (9%) and despair (5%).

Georgiou said: “There is a need for businesses to continually strive to create digital experiences that support, rather than undermine, people’s wellbeing. In fact the survey also revealed that 58% of people feel that companies and social media businesses should be accountable for delivering ‘responsible tech’ and helping people to reduce their screen time.

“There is a growing part of society that is looking for brands that can demonstrate ethical behaviour, and we’re keen to continue to support organisations such as the BBC who are creating digital products that help to promote digital wellbeing and, in particular, help to safeguard younger audiences from the negative effects of social media and online messaging.”

Other key Digital Wellbeing statistics from the survey include:

  • A quarter of people predict that digital technology will make us happier over the next 30 years.
  • Just under a third of people claimed that they had previously attempted a ‘digital detox’, with 39 per cent saying they felt better as a result.
  • Half of respondents admitted that they felt very or quite anxious when their phone battery falls below 10 per cent without a means to charge it.
  • Three in ten people agreed (strongly and somewhat) that they find it harder to relax and de-stress when they have their phone with them.
  • And 78.77 per cent spend time looking at their phone in the last hour before going to bed – something sleep experts advise against.

The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,077 smartphone owners between 25 - 27 February 2019. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

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