Internet addicts forced to switch off for ‘digital detox’

Third of the UK has taken a digital detox. Picture; TSPL
Third of the UK has taken a digital detox. Picture; TSPL
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A THIRD of UK internet users have undertaken a “digital detox” with well over half saying they are “hooked” on their connected devices, according to an Ofcom report.

Some 15 million people, or 34 per cent of all internet users, have taken between a day and a month away from the web to strike a healthier balance between technology and life beyond a screen, the survey of 2025 adults and 500 teenagers found.

Most (59 per cent) consider themselves to be “hooked” on their connected device and a third (34 per cent) say they find it difficult to disconnect.

The study reveals how reliance on the internet is affecting people’s personal and working lives, leading many to seek time away, the regulator’s Communications Market Report said.

Adult users in the UK currently spend an average of one day a week – 25 hours – online, 42 per cent say they go online or check apps more than 10 times a day and around one in 10 (11 per cent) access the internet more than 50 times a day.

Nearly half of all users (49 per cent) said they spent longer online each day than they intended to, and as a result 48 per cent neglected housework, 47 per cent missed out on sleep or were tired the next day and 31 per cent missed out on time with friends and family.

A quarter of teenagers (26 per cent) had been late for school and 60 per cent said they had neglected school work, but 61 per cent said their parents had taken their device away or restricted their time on it.

A quarter of adults have sent a text or instant message to friends or family while in the same room.

But a quarter of adults also complained that someone bumped into them in the street at least once a week because they were looking at their phones, and 40 per cent felt a friend or relative had ignored them at least once a week because they were too engrossed in their device.

Of those who had taken time away from the internet, 25 per cent left it for up to a day, 20 per cent took up to a week and 5 per cent took up to a month away, with most (44 per cent) saying they wanted more time to do other things and 38 per cent needing more time to talk to friends and family.

However, while 33 per cent felt more productive as a result, 27 per cent found it liberating and 25 per cent enjoyed life more, 16 per cent experienced a “fear of missing out”, 15 per cent felt lost and 14 per cent felt “cut-off”.

Almost a third of UK holiday-goers (30 per cent) have purposely abandoned technology, with 16 per cent choosing a destination with no internet access and 9 per cent travelled to a place with no internet or phone coverage.

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.”