LONDON: Around two in five (41%) British consumers believe technology addiction can be compared to alcohol or substance abuse, according to a new survey that provides further evidence of people’s reluctance to “switch off”.

Based on responses from 1,000 consumers in the UK, independent media agency the7stars revealed that two-thirds (67%) of 18- to 34-year-olds say they feel the need to take a break from technology, a figure that rises to 71% of younger consumers aged 18 to 24.

However, these age groups were found to be the least likely to do something about it, with the desire of young people to stay connected appearing to outweigh their need to switch off.

That’s because just 6% of 25- to 34-year-olds actively turn off their phones during the evening or at weekends, while almost two-thirds of them (64%) say they like to be connected all the time.

The survey also found that three-quarters of Londoners are worried that they are losing the art of face-to-face conversations and interactions.

And connected to that finding, it emerged that at least 10% of 18- to 34-year-olds acknowledge that they often record voice notes instead of making actual phone calls, suggesting that communication via digital could become increasingly preferred as a means of interaction for younger consumers.

“Technology brings with it distinct advantages but it’s clear Brits have a hard time prying themselves away from their smartphones – even when they feel they really need to,” said Frances Revel, insights lead at the7stars.

“In an increasingly digital world, attention has become a valuable commodity, but it’s clear the balance may need to be restored with users needing to feel more in control of their tech habits,” she added.

“Many tech companies have already started to help consumers ‘detox digitally’, urging them to develop more healthy relationships between the amount of time spent in the digital world and that spent connecting to people off-screen. There’s still time for more tech brands to follow suit and encourage digital wellness, which must be a priority.”

The suggestion that British consumers are finding it increasingly hard to operate without their mobile devices near to hand appears to chime with a recent report from Ofcom, the media regulator.

Its annual Communications Market Report revealed that consumers now check their smartphone every 12 minutes on average and that 40% look at their phone within five minutes of waking up, rising to 65% of those aged under 35.

Sourced from the7stars, Ofcom; additional content by WARC staff