Smartphones have become such an important part of our daily routine that nearly half of adults admitted they’re “completely hooked” to their device, Ofcom has revealed.
For under 24s, 61% admitted to being hooked and 49% of the same age group felt the urgent need to check their phone within five minutes of waking up.
Although we probably won’t admit it, the research is worryingly familiar.
The report by Ofcom stated 2014 was the year which smartphones overtook laptops as the most-used device, as we now spend over two hours a day on our phones.
James Thickett, Ofcom Director of Research, said: “4G has supercharged our smartphones, helping people do everything from the weekly shop to catching up with friends with a face-to-face video call.
“For the first time, smartphones are the UK’s most popular internet device and are now the hub of our daily lives.”
The report released on 6 August, which described the UK as being a ‘smartphone society’, aimed to look at people’s daily digital habits.
Smartphones are in the pockets of 66% of the population (rising to 90% for 16-24s), which is up from 39% in 2012, and the surge of usage has been driven by speedy 4G mobile broadband.
Ditching the laptop to favour our beloved phones is more common, as over a third of us (33%) feel our phone is the most important device if we want to connect to the internet.
“Today’s report shows just how important reliable, fast internet access is to millions of consumers and businesses,” said Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive.
While it’s clear people are becoming addicted to these devices, the rise in people taking selfies and spending time on social media is only making it worse.
Ofcom estimated 1.2 billion selfies have been taken in the past year, with 60% of adults admitting they use their phone mostly to take a snap.
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Unsurprisingly, 16- to 24-year-olds are mostly likely to use their phone as a camera (89%) and one in ten take a selfie at least once a week.
But although the majority of adults couldn’t be seen without their smartphone, they were quick to admit the damaging impact social media can have on social situations.
Over half of people (55%) think it’s unacceptable to pick up your phone alongside your knife and fork, but for younger people, checking social media messages before breakfast was deemed “crucial” by 49%.
Our smartphone addiction seems to have changed other daily habits we have, too.
The report showed spending time online has hugely increased, as internet users aged 16 and above spend an average of 20 hours and 30 minutes online each week, compared to just under 10 hours in 2005.
And our reliance on smartphones is affecting the way we view TV, with 45% of young people watching TV on a smartphone, ranging from YouTube videos to Instagram video, Vine and on-demand TV services.
The Westin Dublin is a luxury five star hotel ideally located opposite Trinity College in central Dublin, within walking distance of the lively Temple Bar and the famous shops of Grafton Street. The hotel not only occupies its own city block, but is housed within the former Allied Irish Bank, boasting an impressive 19th Century façade. The Westin Dublin launched its digital detox package to help guests combat their increased dependency on electronic devices. Partakers must stash their electronic devices in a safe, in exchange for a “detox survival kit”. This includes a board game, walking map and tree-planting kit, amongst other electronic-free amusements. Inside the hotel there is plenty to distract guests from their devices, including the popular Mint Bar and the impressive Atrium Lounge, boasting a five-storey glass ceiling showcasing a canopy of stars at night time.
The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort offers an idyllic Caribbean getaway on the picturesque Grand Cayman Island. This expansive resort is situated on the renowned Seven Mile Beach, boasting seemingly endless stretches of white sand beaches and turquoise waters. “Tech free zones” were launched last year in a selection of the Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts for travellers craving a “braincation”. No mobile phones or electronic devices are permitted within these zones, which are optional and operate on an honour system. To create these relaxation zones the Grand Cayman Marriott utilises its extensive grounds, containing tropical gardens, private seating areas and even a turtle lagoon. The hotel has a total of 295 spacious rooms with private balconies, and four gourmet restaurants with the opportunity for oceanfront dining. La Mer Spa guarantees relaxation with its extensive selection of unique spa treatments.
Echo Valley Ranch and Spa is a unique luxury ranch nestled in British Columbia’s picturesque Cariboo region. Echo Valley offers guests a truly isolated retreat, surrounded only by forests, meadows, the stunning Costal Mountains and the nearby Fraser River. Their digital detox programme encourages guests to leave their mobile phones in their suitcases. In the meantime, the programme distracts them from their phones with an alluring array of activities. These include daily yoga classes, horse riding, reading, star gazing and hiking in the 3,650 foot altitude fresh Cariboo air. Echo Valley prides itself as a leading wellness destination, boasting a combination Thai and Western Spa and offering fresh and healthy cuisine grown and produced on the premises. The hotel offers a variety of accommodation, from cosy lodge rooms to spacious private cabins with en suite marble bathrooms and outdoor decks.
Palm Island is an exclusive private island resort situated close to the southern tip of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines archipelago. This idyllic resort prides for its scenic natural surroundings and tranquil pace of life. To support this philosophy, Palm Island contains no telephones or televisions in their guest rooms. Although such amenities are usually a standard feature, Palm Island believes the unique natural beauty of the surrounding area deserves to be emphasised. There is plenty to distract guests here, from a total of five white sand beaches to panoramic walking trails where guests might be lucky enough to glimpse iguanas or fascinating birdlife. The area is popular among yachtsmen and divers due to the exotic sea life, reefs and shipwrecks. Guests can take a boat trip to the renowned Tobago Cays, or enjoy the fresh and locally grown Euro-Caribbean cuisine whilst dining on the beachfront.
Monaco Chicago overlooks the iconic Chicago River in Downtown Chicago, in walking distance of the renowned North Michigan Avenue and high end shopping on the Magnificent Mile. In case guests tire of the urban landscape, the 24 acre Frank Gehry inspired “crown jewel” of Chicago, Millennium Park, is on the hotel’s doorstep. Monaco Chicago offers guests a “black-out” option, where partakers surrender their gadgets upon check-in. Those seeking utter serenity should check in to the Tranquillity Suite, a luxurious two-room suite offering relaxation amenities such as in-room massage rollers, relaxing music, sleep masks and towel warmers. The hotel also offers a fully equipped fitness centre, in-room spa services and a hosted wine hour each evening. South Water Kitchen is adjacent to the hotel and features atypical American cuisine, focusing on comfort food and exclusive daily specials.
Four Seasons at Peninsula Papagayo is a premium eco-adventure nestled between golden sand beaches and the Costa Rican jungle. Guests can experience the best of both worlds by surfing in the Pacific Ocean and spotting howler and white-faced monkeys in the tropical forest. The resort has partnered with iPhone case company Uncommon to offer guests a “Disconnect to Reconnect” package, in which participants must surrender their iPhones for 24 hours. A list of 24 things to do without technology is provided, and the iPhones are returned after the allotted time with a choice of four Costa Rican themed iPhone cases. On the list are various unique activities and amenities offered by the resort, including a Costa Rican coffee scrub treatment at the Spa, fresh coconut water by the pool and beautiful blue morphos in the butterfly garden.
Renaissance Pittsburgh is centrally located in the historic downtown district, close to the popular Andy Warhol museum and the PNC Park. This luxury boutique hotel is housed within the iconic Fulton Building, featuring stunning architecture and an elegant interior. Renaissance Pittsburgh offers a family digital detox package, in which families are encouraged to reconnect with each other. All laptops and mobile phones must be surrendered on check-in, and the television, telephone and iPhone docking station are removed from the guest room. Instead, families are provided with board games and playing cards. The hotel also offers an outdoor terrace for the warmer months, a fully equipped fitness centre and a French Brasserie or American Grill Restaurant to choose between. Guest rooms feature striking 12 foot ceilings and luxurious bedding, with some offering views over the Allegheny River and downtown Pittsburgh.
JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa is a landmark on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, located in the heart of the popular Cancun Hotel Zone and offering exemplary service and facilities. Cancun is a holiday-makers dream, offering stretches of white sand beaches, turquoise waters and luxurious beachside hotels. JW Marriott features the same “tech-free zones” offered by nine Mariott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts across seven different locations. These zones are marked by signs, and guests are encouraged to leave their devices in their hotel rooms and relax, read or enjoy quiet conversation. Elsewhere in the resort, guests can choose between two expansive outdoor pools, including a 14 foot dive pool with artificial reef. There is a luxurious Mayan-inspired Spa and a choice of four world-class restaurants, showcasing Italian, Southwestern and Argentinian cuisine. Each of the 448 guest rooms boasts a private balcony with stunning ocean views.
The Lifehouse Spa and Hotel is a contemporary British countryside retreat set in 12 acres of English Heritage Gardens. Located just over an hour by train from London, this spa and hotel offers a tranquil retreat from the city. The Lifehouse has a tech-free policy in their spa environment, where no mobile phones, iPhones, BlackBerrys, pagers or cameras are permitted. Instead, the focus is on relaxation and tranquillity. Each of the 89 bedrooms are tastefully decorated in a contemporary style and feature full-length doors leading to a private balcony or terrace, with views over the lakes and surrounding countryside. A full English breakfast is offered at the Restaurant at Lifehouse, where taste and nutrition are prioritised to create healthy dishes. The spa area boasts an indoor swimming pool, gym, sauna, steam room, hydro-pool and a catalogue of exclusive spa treatments using quality ESPA products.
Jakes is a truly unique creation, where each room and suite is housed within a vividly designed cottage and blends seamlessly into the landscape. Located on Treasure Beach on the island of Jamaica, the resort boats a beachfront location with gardens of palm, ackee, almond and coconut trees. In order to encourage total relaxation and allow guests to focus on the outdoors, most rooms are not equipped with televisions or telephones. The hotel features a mosaic-tiled sea water swimming pool, and there are several niches for sunbathing, reflecting or socialising with other guests. Jakes can arrange cycling, boating and fishing tours, and cooking, painting and mosaic-tile workshops are led by local artists. Alfresco dining at Jakes reflects their love of Jamaican cuisine and commitment to the community, using just-picked fruits and catches of the day. Guests should not miss Pelican Bar, suspended a thousand metres out to sea and accessible by boat only!
This August we’re running a Digital Detox campaign, where we’re championing switching off, spending more time with our loved ones and being more mindful around technology. From inspirational interviews to how it can massively improve your life, we hope to inspire everyone to get out there and reconnect with the world. If you’d like to contribute or blog, email [email protected] or tag us on social media using the hashtag #HPDigital Detox