There’s No Place like Phone

Noel Bell Channel 5 newsThe sixth annual Deloitte report There’s No Place like Phone, which analyses the mobile usage habits of more than 4,000 UK consumers, was released today.

The report was covered widely across the national media. Channel 5 News covered the story on their main news and spoke to consumers, journalists and myself about the issue. See below for the embedded link to the news item (I spoke briefly at 1:03).

The UK public has never been more ‘addicted’ to smartphones, according to the survey. The report uses June 2016 as a foundation to claim that four out of five UK adults (81%) have a smartphone. This percentage rises to 90% when the 18-24 year olds cohort is reviewed.

The key findings of the report are:

  • Nearly 50% of the age group 18-24 check their device in the middle of the night.
  • The adoption rate of 4G usage has more than doubled in the past 12 months (up from from 25% to 54%).
  • 31% of those smartphone users surveyed did not make any traditional voice calls in a given week. (This contrasts with 25% in 2015, and just 4% in 2012).
  • The majority of those who participated have downloaded 20 or fewer apps.

The word ‘addiction’ is difficult for many clinicians in the medical world. Strictly speaking it is a misnomer to call even heavy smartphone usage an addiction. Psychiatrists recognise Gambling Disorder as the only behavioural (non-substance related) addiction. Their bible is the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association (APA) diagnostic tool, currently in its 5th iteration, and does not include smartphone usage as a problem. Internet Gaming Disorder is, though, listed in section 3 of DSM-5 as “conditions for further study”. However, in common with other behavioural problems like sex addiction, counsellors and therapists have lots of anecdotal evidence that alludes to a growing problem of preoccupation and obsession.

If you think you have a behavioural problem with your smartphone take a look at whether you identify with some of the points to consider in the need for digital detox and how to set boundaries around your engagement with technology.

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