Quarter of Scots have been on ‘digital detox’

A quarter of Scots have been on a ‘digital detox’ over fears they are using their smart devices too much, a survey has found.

Six out of 10 people in Scotland even feel they are now ‘hooked’ on their device, and one in five (20%) would feel nervous without their mobile, the annual market report from Ofcom Scotland found.

Reported feeling ‘liberated’ and ‘less distracted’

Addiction to devices is even causing people to bump into one another in the street with nearly seven in ten (67%) having been knocked into by someone engrossed in their phone or tablet.

The regulator found that when people put down their devices for a period of time they feel more positive feelings than negative and reported a sense of being “liberated” and “less distracted”.

The majority (80%) had reduced at least one activity because they felt they were spending too much time online, the survey found.

The most common reasons for taking a ‘tech timeout’ were to spend more time doing other things (cited by 47%) and more time with friends and family (29%).

Scots more willing to do digital detox

Scots felt they were better able to cope without the internet than people in the UK as a whole (61% compared with 52%). Many also found their time offline to be a positive experience: almost half (45%) said they felt more productive, 33% enjoyed life more and a quarter (25%) found it liberating.

Vicki Nash, Ofcom director in Scotland, said: “As Scots get more connected, many admit to feeling hooked.

“Many are beginning to take a fresh look at how we use technology and going on a digital detox to enjoy life beyond the screen.”

Alan Stewart, Ofcom Scotland’s regulatory affairs manager, added: “There is a proportion of Scots users who are feeling levels of concern, so they are detoxing.

“I think it’s quite a positive thing where people are prepared to give up their devices for a short period of time.”

Most people use smartphones in social situations

Half (50%) of internet users also report that face-to-face interactions are often interrupted by the use of connected devices. Despite this, many people are still willing to use electronic devices in company – watching TV with friends, in a restaurant with other people or having dinner at home, or even at the cinema or theatre.

Three-quarters (75%) of smartphone users admitted to using their smartphone in at least one social situation.

The report also found Scotland’s mobile coverage is behind the UK as a whole with the lowest proportion of 3G and second lowest proportion of 4G coverage from at least one network.

The Scottish Government has committed to working with the industry to “maximise commercial investment in 4G mobile in Scotland, and ultimately, to support 5G-ready infrastructure across the country”.

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