1.2m Irish households will own a tablet computer by the end of this year

22 Apr 2013

Digital device ownership in Ireland is surging ahead with the average home owning at least four connected devices. A new Household Sentiment Survey by Eircom predicts that 1.2m homes will have a tablet device by the end of 2013.

The study of 1,000 adults aged 16+ on behalf of Eircom by Behaviour & Attitudes reveals that 1.3m people expect to have 24 x 7 online access and it suggests we may be a nation heading for digital burnout, with workaholics admitting that checking their email is the first thing they do in the morning and more than 250,000 say they check their work email while on holidays.

Tablet computer ownership in Ireland has doubled in the last six months alone.

Some 15pc of the population plan to buy a tablet device in the months ahead, propelling tablet device ownership to 1.2m households by the end of the year.

Smartphone ownership has also increased from 39pc to 50pc, signalling smartphone ownership stands at around 1.6m right now.

“The rise in ownership and usage of digital devices means our online and offline lives are more entwined than ever; meaning we are almost always connected,” explained clinical psychologist David Coleman.  

Death of the digital camera and other digital debris

Because of the multi-functional nature of smartphones and tablet devices, ownership of devices like digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players is plummeting.

Some 71pc of the Irish public say they do not miss their digital cameras and 63pc say they can live without iPods and MP3 players.

Smartphone ownership is higher among females (52pc) than males.

In terms of using these devices, 71pc of smartphone owners admit to using their device in the car and 51pc do so on public transport.

27pc of Irish people use their smartphone while on the toilet

According to the survey, one-third of Irish people (33pc) bring their smartphones into the bathroom with them and 27pc admit to using their smartphone while on the toilet.

Around 78pc bring their smartphone into the bedroom.

More than 37pc of Irish adults search online for DIY tips and 56pc of parents go online to diagnose symptoms if their children are ill.

Has the art of conversation been lost?

More than half of Ireland’s population apparently believes that the nation has lost the art of conversation.

However, savvy 16-24-year-olds believe the conversation is continuing but in a different way. Some 70pc of 16-24-year-olds prefer to text rather than call.

Males and under 35s have a higher acceptability for late evening and weekend texting and emailing, leading to the breakdown of traditional boundaries between home and work life.

Some 62pc of those in the 25-34 age group believe it is acceptable to text a colleague after work or at the weekend. And it seems our digital habits are proving to be a distraction, with 19pc of respondents admitting to having agreed to something without realising it while using a digital device.

“Whether it’s talking to friends or emailing work colleagues, how we engage and converse has changed forever,” Coleman said.

“The older generation are of the opinion that we have lost the art of conversation, the younger generation have a more optimistic viewpoint, believing that the art of conversation is not lost but just changing by using new ways to converse. The report also highlights an interesting divide around the issue of etiquette and the new perceived norms around how we are supposed to engage. The evolving digital culture is causing a seismic shift in our lives with mixed and interesting results.”

Social media fatigue

There is less of a divide between our online and off line selves as social media usage is now part of everyday lives. Thirty-eight per cent of respondents believe they are the same online and offline, compared to 28pc of respondents in the last report.

Social media fatigue is also on the rise, with 28pc of those surveyed claiming that they are getting tired of social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.

“We have become a tech-savvy nation and this has resulted in a fundamental change in how we live and engage with each other,” said Carolan Lennon, chief commercial officer at Eircom.

“In the last six months alone, our report shows how tablets and smartphones have become the new must-have digital devices in Ireland, fulfilling our need to be constantly connected at home, at work and on the move,” Lennon said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years