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Average Brit spends equivalent of a full day every week online

Man using smartphone

Average Brit spends equivalent of a full day every week online

Ofcom’s new Communications Market Report has noted that Britons spend an average of 24 hours a week online, equating to spending a whole day every week on the web.

It’s one of a number of statistics from the report that highlight the intrinsic value of the internet to the UK in 2018, with the study even using phrases like ‘smartphone obsession’ to describe our dependency on mobile internet.

Over the last decade, the percentage of UK residents owning a smartphone has gone from 17% to 78%. Among people in the 16-24 age group, this figure is up to 95%.

Not only do most of us own a smartphone, but we refer to it regularly as well. On average, a Brit will check their phone once every 12 minutes while awake. For many of us, our phones are one of the first things we look at in the morning, with 40% of us consulting the phone within five minutes of waking up, rising to 65% among under-35s. The situation is much the same at night, with 37% (60% of people under 35) on their phones within five minutes of bedtime.

It suggests an all-day relationship between Brits and their mobile internet devices, and feedback is mixed as to whether this bond is a positive or negative one. A tenth (10%) of respondents to Ofcom’s survey said they found it ‘liberating’ to be away from the net, and the same proportion said they felt more productive when disconnected. However, there were greater proportions who said they felt ‘cut-off’ (34%) or even ‘lost’ with no access to the internet. Others feel a sense of addiction or disruption thanks to their smartphone, with 54% saying they tend to interrupt conversations, and 43% admitting they spend more time online that they should.

Interestingly, our modern day reliance on the internet and messenger apps means that, for the first time, there has been a drop in the time and importance we attach to doing what mobile phones were originally created for – making phone calls. Only three quarters (75%) consider it important to be able to make calls from a mobile, compared to 92% who appreciate the importance of mobile browsing.

Perhaps most significantly of all, just 12% of British adults now say that they never use the internet at all. When compared to, for example, the 25% of Americans who have not read a book within the last year, and the 29% of young Brits who haven’t picked up a newspaper in the same time, it suggests the internet to be a medium embraced more widely than any other.

John Murray

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