LONDON: Increased usage of mobile devices over recent years appears to have had a direct impact on the amount of time people go out to socialise with friends and family, official analysis suggests.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which compared device usage in 2015 with data from 2000, the amount of time spent on face-to-face socialising in the UK has dropped by 12.7% to around six hours per week over those 15 years.

“People may be using mobile phones to socialise when they’re watching television, but it’s not necessarily face-to-face communication,” the ONS said.

“It’s possible that with increased device use, people are becoming less likely to go out of their way to meet up and socialise. Easy internet access enables people to talk to friends via social media apps, but they’re still doing so alone.”

The ONS data showed that, of all leisure time spent using a device, 46% of this time was spent alone compared with 29% without a device in 2015.

And compared to 2000, British consumers in 2015 spent less of their leisure time, on average, on activities like sports and cultural pursuits.

Elsewhere, women were found to have a total of 38 hours per week of leisure time in 2015, compared with 43 hours per week for men.

And looking at the percentage of leisure time spent using a device by age, the ONS reported that young Britons aged 25 and under spent about a third of their leisure time looking at their mobile phones, tablets and other devices in 2015.

By gender, men under the age of 25 spent 35% of their leisure time looking at their screens in 2015, while women of the same age spent 29% of their spare time doing the same.

By comparison, women aged 56 and over spent just 10% of their leisure time using a device – along with about 12% of men from the same generation.

Sourced from ONS; additional content by WARC staff