Understanding Screen Addiction and Responsible Digital Use

Little girl sitting on sofa with a smart phone. Happy child playing indoors.Holly Niblett, from the Digital team, asks,Have you been spending more time on your phone or laptop?”
The way we spend our time has been changing as a result of COVID-19. Whether it’s during a lockdown or as we adjust to new norms, it’s likely you’ve been spending more time on your devices.

The pandemic may have encouraged more screen-related bad habits, but the risks were always there. How does your time online make you feel? Are you able to switch off when you need to?

The time we spend in front of screens has a huge influence on our lives. Take control and ensure your digital devices have a positive impact on your life.

How technology use has changed

Thinking back to a time when digital devices didn’t exist or weren’t easily accessible may feel like ancient history. But it really wasn’t that long ago. Internet use, including emails, only became more widespread when broadband allowed the signal in one line to be split between telephone and internet in the early 2000s.

Fast-forward to 2008, and 17% of people owned a smartphone, according to Ofcom data. A smartphone does a lot more than make phone calls and send text messages. Back when you could have only browsed the internet home by kicking someone off a landline phone, shopping, or watching a film on a phone might have felt impossible. But by 2018, smartphone ownership was up to 78%, and 95% among 16-24 year-olds, many of whom would feel lost without their smartphones.

According to Ofcom, the proportion of people accessing the internet on their mobile has increased from 20% in 2008 to 72% in 2018. What’s more:

  • 64% say the internet is an essential part of their life
  • 72% of adults say their smartphone is their most important device for accessing the internet
  • 71% say they never turn off their phone
  • 78% say they could not live without it
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