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Time Spent On Digital Media Outpaces Time Spent Sleeping

Beauty Sleep Loses Out To Beautiful Selfies

Do you feel as though you spend half your time staring at one screen or another? Is your mobile phone the first light that you see every morning, and the last you see before you fall asleep? The latest Ofcom study suggests that this is more than just a feeling.

Time spent consuming digital media has overtaken time spent asleep, new research by Ofcom suggests. UK adults now spend an average of eight hours and 41 minutes on media devices, compared with the average night’s sleep of eight hours and 21 minutes.

It is the breakdown of these figures, however, which is more interesting. While television is still the dominant form of media, with time spent watching the tube being more than time spent on mobile phones, the internet, and landlines combined at three hours 52 minutes, this marks a decrease from last year’s figure of four hours 1 minute. This also marks the first time that national television consumption has dropped below four hours a day since 2009. The latest report also saw the proportion of UK homes with digital TV drop by 1% to 95%, an indicator of the gradual shift of television viewing online to both ‘catch-up’ services liked BBC iPlayer as well as online-only services like Netflix.

The proportion of adults who use a smartphone to access the internet jumped into the majority this year, with 57% browsing on their mobiles – up from 49% last year. Alongside this the proportion of adults using social networking sites rose by two percent to 47%, an indicator of the general driveamong social media sites to increase their mobile presence as well as the growth of mobile-only social networking options like Instagram and Snapchat.

This new research runs parallel to findings released earlier this year which indicate that digital consumption of news has overtaken printed media for the first time, at 41% and 40% of people receiving their daily news from each source respectively. In this area too, however, television remains king with 75% of the population getting their news from the box.

It is the young who are driving this shift, and the lack of take-up of digital media among those aged 55 and over suggest that the digital revolution still has its most radical years ahead of it. The study found that the average six year old has the same understanding of digital technology as the average 45 year old, and the millennial generation of 14-15 year olds had the most advanced understanding of current trends and technologies.

Important to note, in order to avoid the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth which accompanies studies like this, is that we are not seeing a decrease in media consumption, or an abandoning of ‘serious’ news in favour of Buzzfeed lists and Facebook scrutiny. Indeed, young people are receiving a steadier diet of news than ever from more diverse sources than ever thanks to the global access enabled by sites like Twitter. No longer is the news whatever happens to be on the front page of whatever paper their parents subscribe to, but rather something far more connected, far more relevant.


Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Time Spent On Digital Media Outpaces Time Spent Sleeping Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, August 07, 2014 Rating: 5
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