Are Irish people becoming addicted to their smartphones?

5 Dec 2017

How often do you check your phone? Image: nd3000/Shutterstock

3m people in Ireland now own or have access to a smartphone.

A new survey of 1,000 18-75-year-olds in Ireland conducted by Deloitte has revealed some fascinating trends when it comes to how smartphones are used in the country.

The Irish Mobile Consumer survey – A Land of Saints, Scholars and Smartphones – analysed the habits of a broad cross-section of the country.

The influence of the smartphone on our daily lives shows no signs of abating, with 40pc of users looking at their devices within five minutes of waking up. During the night, 44pc of users check their phones, with this figure rising to 60pc among 18-24-year-olds. 30pc of those surveyed check their phones in the five-minute window before going to sleep.

In terms of how we are communicating, people use their phones most for text messaging (68pc). This is followed by voice calls (65pc), instant messaging (64pc), email (63pc) and social networks (59pc).

Are we using our smartphones too much?

For the first time, the survey has captured participants’ self-awareness when it comes to their phone usage, with half of respondents admitting they think they use their phone too much. Irish users check their phones 57 times a day on average, a great deal higher than the European average of 41. A sixth of respondents (16pc) said they were checking their phones 100 times daily.

Richard Howard, partner and head of technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte, commented: “Mobile devices are a relatively new ‘addiction’ to our social fabric, and they form an important part of our daily activities and interactions.

“Social norms will develop over time, and it will be interesting to see if the fear of being without one’s phone – nomophobia – starts to become more widely recognised. We expect to see phone manufacturers continue to put more usage controls into devices to prevent dangerous usage.”

A dip in interest in early adoption

44pc of Irish people expect to trade in their phones in the coming year, compared to a European average of 38pc.

It looks as though the shine has worn off new gadgets and upgrades somewhat though, with 36pc of people only willing to replace their device if it is defective. In general, the findings are pointing to a reduced rate of early adoption across all mobile devices, including VR headsets and smartwatches.

Howard said: “It appears that that recent innovations, such as biometrics and virtual reality, are not convincing consumers to upgrade their devices. This trend is consistent with global usage patterns – Deloitte predicts that global spend on consumer hardware will continue to decrease over the coming two years, picking up again from 2020.”

Average ownership of mobile devices in over-65s has increased from 48pc in 2016 to 54pc this year, which makes the ‘grey tech’ market likely to be a growth area for mobile companies.

It also seems that Irish people are enamoured with the internet of things (IoT). 83pc of respondents said they have access to at least one IoT device, the most prominent one being a smart TV, which 44pc of consumers now own.

“If the first 10 years has been about changing our social lives, the next 10 years will be about changing our working lives,” Howard added. “What’s clear, overall, is that we cannot underestimate how mobile devices have changed how we interact with others. Our survey shows that the right balance is still to found for many of us.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects