Friday, August 05, 2016

Hooked, we are online more than we sleep: The Communications Market 2016

Published on 4 August was Ofcom's The Communications Market 2016 report (for the UK). The finding which they headlined to catch media attention was that "Fifteen million UK internet users have undertaken a ‘digital detox’ in a bid to strike a healthier balance between technology and life beyond the screen": however there is much more in the report, which has a fascinating quantity of information on consumers: frequency of use, amount spent per household, ownership of devices, feelings and behaviour online etc.etc. covering TV, radio, phones and internet. I have extracted some quotations etc. below. There are even longer sections on the industry itself (volume, trends etc.) which I haven't touched on here.
A notable increase is in the purchase of bundled services (e.g. voice plus broadband, or voice+ broadband+ TV). Other snippets are: "The average UK adult uses media and communications services for 8 hours 45 minutes, and sleeps for 8 hours 18 minutes". "Watching accounts for 39% of the total time spent on media and communications. For most age groups it represents the most popular type of activity. However, 16-24s spend more of their time communicating (32% vs. 29% for watching)." Instant messaging has grown in popularity, whilst there is less SMS texting and less email. "A fifth of all media and communications time is spent media multi-tasking" (e.g. messaging whilst watching TV).
They asked people to rate on a scale of 1-10 "how hooked they were on their connected device": 59% internet users said they were ‘hooked’ (giving a rating betwee 7 and 10). 34% of internet users "say that they find it ‘difficult to disconnect from the internet’". Almost half those surveyed said they checked their phones last thing before sleeping and first thing on waking. 72% of 16-24 year olds said they'd missed out on sleep due to spending time online. "41% said that if they didn’t have access to the internet, their lives would be boring." Meanwhile "12% of all adults bump into people or things on a weekly basis [because they are using their phone]"
For the educationalists: "Teens were also asked to what extent they agreed with various statements about the use of mobile phones or tablets during lessons, and generally, similar proportions agreed with the negative and positive statements: 45% said it made the time pass more quickly, while 49% said ‘it distracts me’, 35% said ‘it slows my learning’ and 37% said ‘it makes the lesson less boring’." (p39)
The section on "Digital detox" found that "when asked about the last time they had purposely gone on a digital detox, overall, a third (34%) of internet users said that they had ever done this, while one in ten said they had done so in the last week." and mostly they are positive about this afterwards.
(and there is a lot more - obviously this is of most interest to those based in the UK, but you may find it of interest for comparison, if you are based in another country).
The report is based on a number of Ofcom's high quality research exercises, these include: "Digital Day 2016" (diaries of what was done on a specific day - I will put more on that in another post): the technology tracker survey (run twice a year on a sample weighted to represent the 16+ UK population); the Residential Postal Tracker; The Business Postal Tracker (a sample of 1600 small and medium sized enterprises); The Media Tracker (run through the year and reported annually).

Ofcom. (2016) The Communications Market 2016 report: (the full report can be downloaded: also on the right you can play with the inetractive data function)
Photo by Sheila webber: Tamper, July 2016

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