The internet, social media and mobile phones have become three of the biggest addictions among students and other 18 – 24 year olds, according to a survey conducted by an electronic cigarette company.
The study, which involved 2000 members of the British public, was designed by ECigaretteDirect to determine exactly what qualifies as a modern-day addiction. Although some are immediately obvious, most notably nicotine and various drugs, there are countless other habits, items and even activities that people class as addictions.
In the Technology section of the report, mobile phones featured prominently. Roughly 54 per cent of the people questioned considered the devices an addiction, dedicating an average of 50 minutes a day to texting, calling and general browsing.
This was to be expected—mobiles (in particular smartphones) form a key part of many people’s daily lives, both for business and leisure.
However, as addicted as many of us are to our phones, they weren’t top of the list.
Social media was regarded as the biggest addiction, with over 55 per cent of 18 – 24 year olds admitting that they struggled to get through the day without logging in to any of their accounts. Each day, people spend an average of 54 minutes on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Of these sites, YouTube was one of the most popular. Young people spend an average of 40 minutes a day browsing and watching videos on the website.
James Dunworth, Director and Co-Founder of ECigaretteDirect, said, “I think it’s worth bearing in mind that 20 or even 10 years ago these same people would have been glued to the television.
“The usual criticism is that people are interacting on social media instead of face-to-face. That may be a valid to a degree, but again it’s probably better than sitting on a sofa watching TV.”
He stressed that despite the negative connotations that come with labelling something as an addiction, there were many benefits to social media platforms. “As a person with family spread over several different countries, I personally find it an invaluable to keep up with the lives of those close to me.”
It could be argued that social media falls into the category of internet browsing, although the respondents didn’t seem to agree. Only 34 per cent believe that surfing the web is an addiction, despite the fact that the average time of 64 minutes spent online a day is greater than the figure for phones and social platforms. 21 per cent even stated that they spend more than two hours on the internet every day.
However, it should be noted that social media can easily be accessed on a smartphone—it is fairly safe to assume that this is how many people regularly check their multiple accounts. This would explain the apparent disparity in the results.
The study also focused on two other areas: Lifestyle & Fashion and Health & Fitness.
In Lifestyle, shopping came in as the biggest addiction, with half of all the respondents classing it as one. An astonishing 42 per cent stated that they couldn’t live without it.
Vanity, looking good and being in a relationship also featured. Although it could be argued that vanity is a trait that everyone possesses to some extent, 34 per cent admitted that looking good all the time was simply essential. Nearly a third of respondents stated that they were dependent on having a partner.
Gossip was perhaps the most surprising entry. An incredible 30 per cent of respondents said they were addicted to gossiping, even going as far as admitting that they couldn’t live without it.
In Health, the biggest addictions were found to be calorie counting and weight loss. Sadly, almost a quarter of respondents said that they wouldn’t be able to live without weight loss.
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