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A third of UK internet users have taken a 'digital detox'

Thursday, August 4th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Fifteen million internet users in the UK have taken a “digital detox” in a bid to spend less time online, according to new research from Ofcom.

The telecoms regulator’s Communications Market Report 2016 shows that UK adults spend an average of more than a day a week (25 hours) online.

42% say they go online or check apps more than 10 times a day and 59% admit to being “hooked” on their connected device, with 34% saying they find it hard to disconnect.

Nearly half (49%) of internet users regularly spend longer online than they intended to and people admit to neglecting housework, getting less sleep and even missing out on time with family and friends.

This has led one in three adults internet users to taking time away from the online world, with one in 10 doing so in the past week.

A quarter (25%) have spent up to a day internet-free, 20% have taken up to a week off and 5% have gone a month without going online.

Ofcom reports that our attachment to our mobile phones and tablets is getting in the way of face-to-face communication.

According to its survey of 2,025 adults and 500 teenagers, 40% say they are ignored by a friend or relative too engrossed in their device at least once a week.

Just over a quarter of adults (26%) say they’ve sent a text or instant message to someone in the same room – and 32% of teenagers have done this at school.

'Love affair'

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.”

Ofcom found that faster internet access is more widely available than ever before.

By the end of last year, 9.2m fixed broadband connections were superfast, up from 7.1m in 2014, and almost half of all mobile subscriptions were to a 4G service.

The most popular device for accessing the internet remains the smartphone – and some 71% of adults now own one, up from 66% last year.

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