UK’s screen time stats revealed

What Mobile
April 4, 2019

Survey reveals UK adults spend around 50 days a year on their mobiles

A new study into people’s screen time and attitudes towards their mobile devices have revealed:

  • 37 per cent of people currently track their smartphone screen time. This rose to almost 60 per cent in 16 to 25-year-olds.
  • 15 per cent of the respondents says they spend more than six hours every day on a mobile device!
  • The UK average is 3 hours and 23 minutes; this rises significantly in the 16-24-year-old age group, who spend an average of four hours a day looking at their mobiles.
  • Half of the UK’s smartphone users are planning to reduce their screen time this year.
  • 44.25 per cent of the 2,077 people surveyed said they were ‘definitely happy’ with the amount of time they spend looking at their phone each day.

The national poll was carried out by digital agency Code Computerlove

Time well spent?

To delve deeper into how people are racking up so much time on their phones, the poll explored screen time activities. The top five included messaging friends & family (67%), browsing social media (59%), reading the news (48%), watching & listening to music (49%) and online shopping (35%).

Interestingly, people are twice as likely to browse (59%) than post (30%) on social media, indicating these platforms are often used in quite a passive way. 

12% of people say they take selfies at least once a day on their phones – the figure is slightly higher for males (12.15%) than females (11.67%). Perhaps unsurprisingly 16-24s are the most active selfie-takers, at 25 per cent. This is compared to two per cent of over-55s.

Daily usage of health/fitness apps is somewhat common (17%), but other ‘healthy’ types of apps are only used by a small minority: Sleep improvement (6%), Meditation (6%), Producing music / creating art (5%) and Journaling (4%).

Anywhere, any time – even on the loo!

The convenience of smartphones means we can chat, shop and scroll almost anywhere – in fact, one in three people use their phones whilst on the toilet.

But it seems one device isn’t enough for screen-happy Brits; the most common situation in which people use their smartphones is while watching TV (64% use their mobiles in front of the telly). This was followed closely by people using their devices in bed (55%), both morning and night. Other top answers were on the bus or train (34%) and at work (33%). 

More accountability needed for UK’s digital wellbeing, say Brits

As well as smartphone users planning to take more personal responsibility for managing their screen time, the survey also revealed that 58 per of people feel that companies and social media businesses should be accountable for delivering ‘responsible tech’ and helping people to reduce their screen time.

But it’s not all bad news for digital technology and smartphone manufacturers

Interestingly, despite large numbers of people reporting that they want to reduce their screen time in 2019, when asked to reflect on the feelings evoked by their smartphone usage, positive responses dominated.

A feeling of ‘connection’ came out as the top response (38%) followed closely by satisfaction (37%). Empowerment (16%) and gratitude (15%) were other positive emotions relating to smartphone usage.

The numbers reporting negative feelings were lower – guilt (13%), anxiety (11%), shame (9%) and despair (5%).

Code Computerlove carried out the survey to gather more insight into attitudes around digital wellbeing. Code’s Managing Director, Louis Georgiou said:

“There is so much debate around the impacts of smartphone usage, but not as much around screen time specifically. The survey has given us much greater insight into how much time is actually spent on these devices, how people feel about their own habits – both the negatives and the positives – and, in turn, the need for businesses to create digital experiences that support, rather than undermine, people’s wellbeing.

“While some of the findings are quite shocking, such as how long some demographics spend on their phones, the positive attitudes towards owning a device outweigh the negatives – good news for many. It is worth noting, though, that the majority of those asked said that companies have a duty to deliver ‘responsible tech’, and that people are tracking their screen time to try and reduce it in the future.”

Also commenting on the findings, Dr Taljinder Basra, HCPC Registered Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, said: “There is very little robust UK research available that explores the psychological factors associated with excessive smartphone use.

“There is likely to be a number of hypotheses, such as smartphones may provide a sense of belonging, a sense of connectedness, a way to get access to information quickly and effortlessly and they are a much easier means to communicate. But why people may go from ‘normal’ use to excessive ‘compulsive/addictive’ use and the psychological implications of this is relatively unknown and in the early infancy of research.

“By their very nature, smartphones are multi-faceted – their functionality makes them attractive to use and before you know it, you’ve been on the device for hours!  It is not yet clear whether people become excessive users due to this multifaceted functionality or whether excessive use is related to certain media types.”

Dr Adam Galpin, Psychology lecturer at the School of Health & Society, University of Salford, added: “This large, nationally representative sample reveals some really interesting demographic patterns related to how people perceive their phone use. What comes through very strongly is how experiences shift with age: young people use their phone more, are more likely to report feeling stressed as consequence, and are more likely to seek out ways to reduce negative impact through a digital detox or tracking their own screen time.

“These findings add to the evidence on screen time and digital well-being by revealing how people perceive the effects of the phone use on their own well-being and how this shifts across the lifespan.”

To read more about the survey, view the full results, and compare your own screen time to the rest of the UK, visit

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