Fifteen million internet users in Britain have undertaken a ‘digital detox’ in a bid to strike a healthier balance between technology and life beyond the screen, according to a new report on Thursday by communications regulator Ofcom.
Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2016 reveals how reliance on the internet is affecting people’s personal and working lives, leading many to seek time away from the web to spend time with friends and family.
It finds that one in three adult internet users (34%), equivalent to 15 million people in the UK, has sought a period of time offline.
Most internet users (59%) consider themselves ‘hooked’ on their connected device, while a third (34%) admitting they find it difficult to disconnect.
Of these digital down-timers, 25% spent up to a day internet-free; 20% took up to a week off; and 5% went web-free for up to a whole month, it said.
Many people found their time offline to be a positive experience: a third (33%) said they felt more productive, 27% found it liberating, while a quarter (25%) enjoyed life more.
However, 16% experienced a ‘fear of missing out’ or FOMO while on the web wagon, 15% felt lost and 14% ‘cut-off’.
Three in four internet users (75%) consider the web ‘important’ to their daily lives. Nearly eight in 10 (78%) agree it helps keep them up-to-date about current affairs and social issues, while almost two-thirds (63%) credit it with inspiring them to try new things such as travel destinations, restaurants, recipes or entertainment.
As a result of the internet’s importance in many people’s daily lives, adult users in the UK currently spend an average of one day per week (25 hours) online; 42% say they go online or check apps more than 10 times a day, while around one in 10 (11%) access the internet more than 50 times daily.
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.”