Wired Britons: We now spend more time online than sleeping

A third of UK internet users have undertaken a "digital detox" with well over half saying they are "hooked" on their connected devices
A third of UK internet users have undertaken a "digital detox" with well over half saying they are "hooked" on their connected devices
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ADULTS IN the UK now spend more time on media and communications than they do sleeping, Ofcom’s latest report has found.

As the digital revolution continues apace, it was revealed that the average adult now spends eight hours and 45 minutes using devices like smartphones to watch videos, send emails and surf the internet from almost anywhere in the world.

The devices we use

The devices we use

Three quarters of internet users consider the web “important” to their daily lives, half say it means they never feel bored and 82 per cent feel that communicating over the web has made their lives easier.

But for some it has become too much as more than half admit they are “hooked” on their connected devices and a third of UK internet users say they have undertaken a “digital detox”.

Jane Rumble, director of market intelligence at Ofcom, said: “The internet has revolutionised our lives for the better. But our love affair with the web isn’t always plain surfing, and many people admit to feeling hooked.

“So millions of us are taking a fresh look at the role of technology in our lives, and going on a digital detox to get a better tech-life balance.”

Our love affair with the web isn’t always plain surfing.

Jane Rumble, director of market intelligence at Ofcom

The report found 86 per cent of adults now have home internet access via any device, and 71 per cent own a smartphone – up from 66 per cent a year ago – making it the most popular device for accessing the internet.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those aged 16 to 24 spend the most time on media and communications at just under nine hours a day.

There was evidence of a narrowing digital generational gap though, with the proportion of 55 to 64-year-olds with internet access increasing from 82 per cent in 2015 to 87 per cent, while 51 per cent use social media and 42 per cent use on-demand services in an average week.

Smartphone ownership increased by those aged 55 and over year-on-year, and the most significant annual growth in mobile data use was among the older age groups. It rose from 39 per cent in 2015 to 50 per cent in 2016 among 55 to 64-year-olds and from 16 per cent to 21 per cent among those aged over 65.

While the total time spent by each person in the UK watching broadcast TV has fallen by four minutes since 2014, weekly viewing of paid-for video on demand services increased to 26 per cent among UK adults.

Netflix proving the most popular service, followed by Amazon Instant Video and Now TV, and Breaking Bad was the most watched programme across these three services last year.

Emailing and texting remain the most common methods of text communication but are decreasing, while the proportion of adults using instant messaging services such as Facebook and WhatsApp at least once a week rose from 28 per cent in 2014 to 43 per cent in 2016.

The number of homes with landline telephones continued to fall, decreasing by 0.3 million to 33.2 million last year as householders shift to mobile services and instant messaging.

There was sad news for fans of “snail mail” though as the volume of addressed letters also fell by 3.7 per cent – a faster rate than in 2014. Nearly half of adults said that they only use post if there is no alternative.

The study revealed the reliance many of us now have on the internet was affecting people’s personal and working lives, leading many to seek time away.

Adult users in the UK currently spend an average of one day a week – 25 hours – online, and around one in 10 said they accessed the internet more than 50 times a day.