Smartphone Addiction: The 411

By Walter Armstrong 08/05/11

Giant British survey finds new breed of "highly addicted" smartphone users, who eat, sleep and use the bathroom with their wired toys.

In bed with the boss Photo via 

"A Nation Addicted to Smartphones." That's the title of a new report by Ofcom, the independent regulator of the UK communications industry. In a huge survey of digital life, researchers confirmed that the incursion of iPhones, Blackberrys and Androids into our domestic domains is upsetting—or at least resetting—the traditional balance between work and life. Whether or not smartphone use can yet be classed as an addiction, the stats suggest that being constantly wired is fundamentally rewiring our brains:

• Nine out of ten Brits own a mobile phone (36% in 2000, 91% in 2011) and one in seven households are now mobile-only.

• The vast majority of smartphone users (81%) have their mobile switched on all the time, even in bed, with 38% of adults and 40% of teens admitting using their smartphone after it woke them.

• Over a fifth (22%) of adults and nearly half (47%) of teens admitted using or answering their smartphones in the bathroom or toilet.

• Almost half (48%) of adults have a social networking profile.

• When asked about their use of smartphones, 37% of adults and 60% of teens self-define as "highly addicted."

• Texting drivers are 10 times more likely to have a traffic accident. Over 8,000 Americans and 2,000 Brits have have been killed by "distracted drivers" so far this year.

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Walter Armstrong is the Medical Editor at  Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness and the former deputy editor of The Fix. You can find him on Linkedin.