February 20, 2013
Gen Y may still be grabbing all the headlines but the full scale of the potential technological immersion of Gen Z is evident in the findings of a new report from Halifax Insurance. The Digital Home Index claims that the average child born in the UK today will spend around a quarter of their lives watching non-work related technology before the age of 80. The report also claims that three quarters of British people already claim they would struggle to get through a day without their technology. The full pervasiveness of smartphone, tablet, laptop and MP3 technology in modern British lives is apparent in some of the more jaw-dropping findings from the survey of 2,500 people.
It suggests that around a third of Brits (22 million) admit to communicating with friends and family even though they are in the same house and nearly a quarter (22 per cent) claim they are happier communicating by phone or social media than face to face. A similar proportion (23 per cent) are anxious about switching off their phones with 19 per cent concerned they might be ‘missing out’ on something.
A clear quarter of people (25 per cent) take their phone to bed to use and 10 per cent to the bathroom. Almost one in ten use their phone during meals. Three quarters check their contacts before they start work each day.
Commenting on the report’s findings, psychologist Dr Aric Sigman highlighted the potential dangers of addiction to technology: “As the amount of time spent looking at a screen or plugging in increases, the amount of time spent on direct eye-to-eye contact and developing real-life relationships inevitably decreases. By the age of 7 years, the average child born today will have spent one full year of 24-hour days watching screen technology; by the time they reach 80 they will have spent almost 18 years of 24-hour days watching non-work-related screen technology. That’s a quarter of their lives. The over-use of technology is an issue affecting all age groups; from young adults, for whom technology is now a central part of life, to parents who will be experiencing both how their over-use of technology affects them individually and how it creates barriers to family interaction. We have to remind ourselves that technology should be a tool, not a burden or obstruction, and at the moment it seems the tail is wagging the dog.”