The COVID-19 pandemic has tightened the grip smartphones exercise on users, and this is starting to have a negative impact on the mental and physical health of users, with a majority worrying about their smartphone addiction. That’s the key finding of a study conducted by Vivo and Cyber Media Research titled ‘Smartphones and their impact on human relationships 2020’.
The second edition of the report this year looks at the impact of the pandemic and highlights how users are even more dependent on their smartphones in 2020 with many worried about their addiction, but unable to do much to curb it.
Explaining the logic behind conducting this study, Nipun Marya, Director Brand Strategy at Vivo India, said, “Excess usage of smartphones, we believe is somewhere harming relationships. And, therefore, it fundamentally goes against our brand values. Excessive usage is leading to addiction, which is then harming relationships.”
While many users report that lockdowns and work from home has resulted in more time being spent with family members, the average time spent on smartphones continues to rise.
One major finding of the study was that since 2019 there has been a major jump in the daily hour usage of smartphones per user. “There is nearly a 39 per cent increase in smartphone usage from 2019. Last year, the duration in hours was at 4.5 hours, and this has increased to nearly 7 hours now,” Marya pointed out.
In particular office work has increased for many users, adding to increased time spent on smartphones. “We saw that office work has increased by 75 per cent, calling by 63 per cent, OTT by 59 per cent, video consumption by 56 per cent, social media usage by 55 per cent and gaming around 45 per cent. Of course, maximum is driven due to work from home, which has seen a 75 per cent jump,” he added.
While time spent on smartphones has increased drastically, users are more worried about the addiction and its impact on their relationships. Nearly 89 per cent users surveyed agreed that excessive use of smartphones is having an impact on the quality of time spent with loved ones.
Further, 88 per cent of those surveyed said people have called them out for using the phone when present in a social setting with others. There’s also a compulsive need to check one’s mobile phone. Nearly 46 per cent of the users said they pick up the phone at least five times in an hour-long conversation.
About 70 per cent of those surveyed agreed that this excessive usage of smartphones was impacting their mental and physical health, while 84 per cent of users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. In fact, 88 per cent of people feel compelled to check their smartphones frequently compared to 52 per cent in 2019.
The smartphone is also omnipresent, be it while eating with the family or working out or in the living room or in the bedroom. The study also showed that higher age groups had higher usage of smartphones on a daily basis.
The impact of smartphones on a user’s mood is also clear as a majority of 74 per cent of those surveyed said that they feel moody or irritable without their smartphones. This was only 33 per cent last year.
The smartphone is also the first device that users check within 15 minutes of waking, according to 88 per cent of those surveyed. This statistic has also seen a major jump from last year, when it was at 52 per cent . Worryingly, 73 per cent of the users said they feel isolated when they are without their smartphones, which is another big jump from 39 per cent in 2019.
However, users are not oblivious to their smartphone addiction problems. Nearly 73 per cent of the users believe that they would be happier if they could choose to switch off their smartphones periodically. Still, the actual step is being taken by just 18 per cent of users, who admitted to having switched off their phones on their own for more than one hour.
Vivo’s study had a sample size of 2000 people in the top eight cities of the country, which is Delhi, Mumbai Bangalore Kolkata Chennai Hyderabad. The male to female ratio was 70 to 30 per cent.
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