As digital technology further integrates into our personal and professional lives each year, it’s important to consider just what effect this is having and how our daily habits are changing.
The Covid-19 pandemic escalated daily screen time use, normalized remote working, and ensured the services we use pivoted to online options. In 2023, banking, groceries delivery, streamed content, virtual meetings and learning formats are all digital alternatives we rely on, and we can only expect this trend to continue as technologies develop.
This post will discuss the most recent statistics surrounding how we use these devices: the screen time we invest in our devices every day.
This suggests that almost half of 0-2-year-olds will interact with smartphones and devices like tablets, and Gen Z thus far clocks the most screen time each day, with around 9 hours. This marks up to a 5% increase since before the pandemic started. This means that, on average, any person would spend around 40% of their daily life using a screen for a range of purposes, be that via personal organization via smartphones or more recreational activities such as watching television, playing video games, and more.
This means that most people spend less time than this, but this is a marked increase that has persisted since the 2019 Covid pandemic that stretched into 2020 and 2021. As more and more companies adopt apps to use their services, as conveniences like food delivery and rideshare apps thrive in the marketplace, we can expect this figure to grow even outside of power users.
As screen time, particularly in remote working roles, increases worldwide, we can expect public health bodies and tech firms to highlight the importance of screen time awareness, as well as develop measures to help combat vision problems as a result. Some headway is being made – tech firms like Apple and Microsoft have implemented blue-light filters throughout their devices to ensure UV light, known to affect our circadian rhythm, is less impactful.
With a highly centralized online culture, life management functionality, and aforementioned convenience all becoming digitized, it’s easy to see how we’ve been trained to continually check and care for our smartphones as notifiers. Some user interface design techniques, such as the pull-down to refresh and infinite scroll design, are primed to keep us focused on particular apps, even when we have no use for them.
This includes the use of multiple devices, from televisions to video game consoles, smartphones, and iPads, and even alternative digital variants to traditional media formats, such as using e-readers instead of reading print books or even reading e-books via smartphone screens. Gen Z is the most likely to adopt new social media apps such as TikTok, BeReal, and dating apps like Hinge. We can expect these trends to continue.
Generation Z comprises those well into their twenties and recently turned 11, so not everyone will own a smartphone or other device. Millennials, much more likely to own a personal tech device, will influence these figures. Millennials spend almost four hours daily on smartphones, a one-hour increase over Generation X and two hours over baby boomers.
In 2000 only 14% of those 65 and up used the internet, so in little over twenty years, we’ve seen the widespread adoption of regular screen time usage and fluency between a range of worthwhile home devices. This signifies an encouraging step in the accessibility of tech, disproving the myth that older people are less capable of understanding tech as younger generations grow older.
This is understandable, given the service economy and the increased desire for flexible work-from-home positions. The increased time from the US to the UK may result in larger sample sizes and longer driveable distances for towns and cities, inspiring people to rely more on digital conveniences.
The cheaper prevalence of smartphones and more affordable contracts align with this result. Moreover, the blossoming mobile development scene shows a cultural affinity with portable devices.
Japanese citizens spent only 51 minutes a day on social media sites, compared to the most frequent users, those in Nigeria, spending on average over 4 hours and 7 minutes on multiple platforms daily. Japanese online culture’s heavy reliance on community forums may influence this statistic.
Smartphones are highly portable and often mostly accessible. With the prevalence of 4G and 5G networks as standard, a new standard of internet access has been found. Moreover, smartphone hotspot technologies now allow internet access to be shared with portable devices, encouraging multi-device users to still rely on their smartphones throughout the day. With many social media apps, businesses, and even challenger banking apps solely operating through smartphone software, it’s not hard to see why they have become the new standard.
While the average Brit uses the internet for 6.4 hours daily, they also come in second in television viewing screen, watching up to 21 hours a week. This means that almost 1,000 hours of television are watched each year. As the rest of the screen time includes professional use, the statistics are more understandable.
This provides a stark difference to 2011 when the average person spent 11 minutes more using their desktop computer than they would their smartphone. As smartphones have become more and more advanced and capable, they have begun replacing many essential fixtures that people once needed on desktops, even if they cannot emulate the whole gamut of features. We can expect this trend to continue as time goes on.
From this data, we can infer that screen time is increasing year-round. While screen time may differ from device to device, while cultural standards can reinforce certain behaviors more commonly, it’s important to note that the duration and frequency by which screens have become integrated into our lives is only set to increase.
This impact is yet to be fully understood, but we have some good and bad insights. On the positive side, the world has never been more interconnected. As we’ve seen with intensive and difficult world situations, like open-source intelligence-gathering in Ukraine, the spread of public health information, and the ability for people to work more flexibly, our screens are no longer a recreational indulgence we’re glued to, but a tool for convenient living.
Unfortunately, screen time can also lead to wasted personal experiences, a sedentary lifestyle, and, as explained above, slight vision degradation that affects 50% to 85% of frequent screen users. For this reason. We will see how this trend continues in the future.
Next year, the data will undoubtedly show a shifting approach toward portability and convenience. These trends are underpinned by the growing accessibility and utility of smaller devices and a global internet offered through data roaming.
To make the most of screen time, setting our boundaries is important. From time filters to setting notifications on your devices so that scheduled alerts help you avoid becoming distracted – we’ll no doubt see many thoughts and insights on the topic as screens become more sophisticated and interwoven into our daily experience.