The BBC news website describes a new Ofcom report which surveyed 1138 adults in the UK to determine how they spend their time, in particular the media they consume. The findings are startling. The statistics suggest people in the UK spend seven hours a day – almost half their waking lives – "engaging in media and communications activities".
The article goes on:
“However, the average person actually squeezes in the equivalent of nearly nine hours of media and communications by multi-tasking on several devices. Television still dominates people’s media habits, with the average person spending around 3.8 hours watching television every day.”
“However, it found that most people are able to cram in even more by multi-tasking. For example, the report found that adults aged between 16 and 24 appeared to consume the least, spending just six hours and 35 minutes a day on the phone, laptop, radio or television. But by multitasking – effectively using two or more devices at once – the survey found that young adults were able to squeeze the equivalent of nine hours 32 minutes worth of consumption into that time.”
Before getting carried away, it is important to realise that there are very real doubts about whether multitasking is actually possible. See my posts:
- A challenge to the multitask assumption
- The case against multitasking is building
- More multitasking madness
My guess is that what is really happening is that people are switching their attention between a background medium – TV, radio, music on their iPod – and something more vital and urgent like texting, reading new emails, using Twitter, playing a game or social networking. And it isn’t just young adults doing this – it would not be unusual to find me checking out information on my smart phone while my wide plays a game on the iPad, as we both watch a TV programme. When the programme gets interesting, our focus will switch, because you really can’t concentrate on two things at once.
The report came up with some other interesting data:
- Radio is holding its own – "It is still a very important medium for people."
- “Despite the growth in online TV services and devices that allow people to record television, most shows were watched via traditional live broadcasts.”
- “Internet take-up has now reached 73% in the UK, the majority of which is fixed broadband.”
- “The number of people using their phone to surf the web currently stands at 13.5m people. This has almost tripled since 2008, when the figure stood at 5.7m.”
- “Much of this increase had been driven by one site – Facebook – which accounts for 45% of all mobile web use in the UK, followed by Google at 8%.”
I could be accused of being a boring old fart by suggesting that people should get out more, perhaps taking the odd walk. They should still remember to take their smart phones with them, just in case – like me from time to time – they get lost and need to rely on GPS to get them home.