SINGAPORE: Singaporeans spend 23% more non-work time online than the regional average and more than half are "addicted" to social networking and the internet, according to a new survey which warns of the health implications of such behaviour.

The findings emerged from the 2016 Healthy Living Index Survey, conducted by insurer AIA across the 15 Asia Pacific markets where it operates. A total of 10,316 interviews were conducted, including 501 from Singapore.

The study revealed that, on average, people across the region spent three hours online a day, outside of work. But in Singapore that rose to 3.7 hours.

Around 7 in 10 (67%) people in Singapore said they found it hard to break the habit of spending a lot of time in front of screens. And 62% admitted they were addicted to social networking and the internet.

The survey added that this was despite knowing that they should spend less time in this activity since prolonged online time affected their posture (69%), prevented them from getting adequate exercise (69%) and from getting sufficient sleep (69%).

Perhaps more worryingly, these habits are rubbing off on their children. Two thirds (67%) of parents in Singapore acknowledged their children were not getting enough exercise. Some 43% said children spent too much time online and 33% complained of the time spent playing video games – both figures being higher than regional average.

The sedentary existence implied by these figures is reflected in the fact that 62% of respondents in Singapore would like to lose weight – an average of 5.9kg.

But at the same time as they are hooked on their online and digital activities, many are also aware that these can also offer a route to a more healthy lifestyle: one fifth (21%) of Singaporeans already use health tracking apps on their smart phone or table and almost two thirds (64%) see them as a helpful way for them to keep track of their progress and stay motivated to exercise.

Data source from AIA; additional content by Warc staff