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The Nation's Digital Dependency Revealed

The Nation's Digital Dependency Revealed

The Nation's Digital Dependency Revealed

We’ve been on our digital detox for a couple of weeks now. We’ve stepped back from our screens (if only a little) and tried to make some space in our lives for something other than twitter and facebook. Our Digital Dependency: No Social Media Personally I’ve cut back on TV and internet time in the evenings and tried committing myself to reading more. Pen Heaven’s CEO, David, has taken tech free lunches and we’ve been suggesting ways you can have your own detox. All in the run up to National Unplugging Day on June 25th. We wondered how digitally dependent our society is on the devices we use so we asked you. We surveyed 200 people in the UK about their tech habits. With devices so central to day-to-day life, people are forgetting how to switch off, but let’s see just how attached you all are.

Over 80% of people use 2+ devices on a daily basis BUT nearly 60% would enjoy giving it up.


How many devices do we use every day?

81% of people use 2 or more digital devices every single day,while almost 10% go tech free on a regular basis.

Whilst 2 digital devices may not seem like a lot, using them every single day does mean technology has become an integral part of our lives.

How many digital devices people use on a daily basis.

Our Digital Dependency: Irregular pie chart showing percentage of people whom use which number of digital devices every day

Men v Women How digital device usage compares

Our Digital Dependency: Bar chart showing percentage of men v women whom use which number of digital devices every day

Women are from Venus, Men are from Maplin

There’s a stereotype that men love tech. They like all gadgets and always want to have the newest trends. This proved true in our survey, with men being over 10% more likely than women to use 4+ devices every day, while women were almost 10% more likely than men to use one or less tech products on a daily basis.

Machines for the mature

Pen Heaven found it shocking that the 45-54 age group used so many devices, with 29% of respondents stating they used 4+ devices every day. This is most surprising as only 25% of the 18-24 age group, whom have grown up with tech, would use 4 or more devices a day. We believe this may be an older generation learning to embrace the new technologies, acquiring new skills and perhaps even changing work sectors as we become a more digitally dependant society. It may also be because many older generations have more disposable income and so can afford to buy more tech items.  

How many hours do we use these devices for?

Number of leisure hours spent using digital devices everyday

Our Digital Dependency: Pie chart showing how many leisure hours people use digital devices for every day Almost 50% of respondents said they spent between 1 and 3 hours of leisure time a day using their devices, which considering the data given in our digital detox post is a significant amount of anyone’s free time. A massive 24% of people said they will spend 4 or more hours using their technology for fun; which really goes to show how attached we are to our tech.

Men spend significantly more leisure time using their digital devices than women. 47% of men would spend 3+ hours using their devices daily, compared to only 30% of women.

Tech Time

Unsurprisingly we found that the younger generations used their tech the most, whilst the older generations were least likely to use their tech.

Leisure hours spent using digital devices broken down by age group

Our Digital Dependency: Line chart showing percentage of people using their digital device for Less than 1 and 4+ hours every day - segmented by age group

Addicted to an Addiction

People who use more devices daily are likely to spend more leisure hours using them.56% of people using 4 or more devices daily would use them for 4+ hours.

Leisure hours spent using digital devices broken down by number of devices used daily

Our Digital Dependency: Stacked bar chart showing transposition of results from Q1 & Q2 Digital devices are meant to be about making our lives easier. To connect with friends and family in far reaches, the locate information, to plan, to collate, to organise. But with so many people using their tech more and more, it appears we have lost sight of what technology is about. Instead of increasing productivity, technology has become a drain on our time with mindless hours sucked into the digital void.  

How would you feel if you were without your tech for 24 hours?

Our Digital Dependency: Doughnut chart showing How people would feel without their devices

57% said they would enjoy discarding their devices for a day.

  Despite men having more items of tech and using them for longer hours, women were almost 10% more likely to feel a little lost without their tech close by. We believe this shows a difference in usage, as women are likely to use their devices as they were designed. They use them to increase efficiency and organise their days. Those with more devices struggle to use them proactively and instead will scroll endlessly.

How people would feel without their devices broken down by number of devices they use daily

Our Digital Dependency: Bar Chart showing comparison of digital devices used and how people felt is they would be without their devices

It seems the optimal number of tech devices to use every day is 1 or 2. 1 device users were the were least likely to want a break from their tech, and 2 device users were least likely to feel helpless and lost without their devices. Perhaps these people know the secrets to using their gadgets in the most productive way and not becoming addictive to staring at their screens. The 18-24 age group was likely to use multiple devices every day, but no-one of this age said they would feel completely helpless without their tech. Surprisingly it was this age group whom were most likely to say they’d be “Thrilled” to be without their tech. This clearly shows that those whom had more devices were much more likely to say they would be ‘thrilled’ to be without their tech. Even though digital technology is engrained into our lives many people are starting to feel a necessity to step back and unplug.  

Keyboard v. Pen - Which is the better invention?

Our Digital Dependency: Keyboard v Pen With so many of you looking quite dependent on your devices, we wondered if you’d favour the traditional pen or the modern equivalent as the better invention. Our Digital Dependency: Doughnut Chart - Pen V Keyboard - Which is a better invention 70.9% of people think that the pen is mightier than the keyboard. However, the youngest generation favoured tech more than any other age group – 63% of 18-24 year olds choose pen. Almost a 10% variance from the population as a whole. Some people explained why:

  • A pen is “more personal”
  • A pen “allows free flowing creativity”
  • “I like writing with a proper pen”
  • “If I had not learned to use a pen, it would be unlikely the computer or phone or I pad tablet would make a lot of sense to me”
  • “Ink feels more finite than keyboard, although I use digital devices daily I still keep a daily log on paper”
  • Pens “are cheap and portable”
  • It’s the “traditional way of doing things”
  • “The pen came first and without it we wouldn't have the wealth of literature that we have now”
  • “You wouldn't have the keyboard if we hadn't invented the pen first to draw the designs”


Who is in need of a digital detox?

From our analysis of the survey results we have spotted some groups whom are more in need than others. Pen Heaven feels that men are more in need of a detox than women, and younger generations more than older ones. This is because these groups have so many digital devices that they don’t use them to improve their lives and increase efficiency. Instead their devices hinder their productivity, promote procrastination and steal their free time.  

Our Tech-free Test

We asked Dan, a thirty-something IT project manager, to do a 24hr digital detox to highlight our societal dependency. Dan uses his phone for planning everything in his daily life, from scheduling meetings with clients, to jotting down his latest work out notes. He is so dependent on digital devices, that he rarely uses a pen and even admits he has forgotten how to sign his name before. Dan put down his phone for 24hours and told us how he got on.

You prefer to use your phone over using a pen and paper, why is this?

I’ve always hated my handwriting so I favoured typing. Now I write so little I forget how to use a pen. Also, deleting is easier on a phone, if I make a mistake it’s easier to sort out than with a pen.

So why did you decide to participate in our digital detox campaign?

I thought it would be a novel idea as I havn’t used a pen in around 6 months. Also, I spend so much time on my computer and phone that I thought it’d be good to take some time away.

While on your digital detox you spent 24hrs using your phone and internet as little as possible. How did you feel during this 24hours? Was it a difficult experience?

It wasn’t difficult as such, I actually found it quite relaxing, but I did think about using my phone more than I thought I would.

During this period, you made hand written notes when you would have normally used your phone. How did you find this?

I found it slightly annoying as my handwriting is pretty hideous, and I made a lot of mistakes which made it messy. In hindsight, a pencil would have probably been a better option for me. However, I enjoyed the feel of pen on paper – it was different to typing in my phone – it was a more personal experience.

What did you find worked well? What didn’t?

My daily log, including my work out plan worked really well. My onward progression notes also. I tried writing down items for my shopping list and this worked well, but as I order online I usually prefer to put the items straight into the app. Not using my phone was difficult when I wanted to search Google and it was frustrating not having the immediacy of communication. I wouldn’t be writing letters instead of emails any time soon.

Did you find that writing down your notes and things to do that it changed the way you viewed them?

I felt my daily log was more personal and special. My notes were probably less clinical than normal.

Has this digital detox changed the way you view your devices? Is it likely to change the way you make notes in the future?

I would potentially continue to keep a journal log of my daily activities as it did give a more personal feel and I liked it. However, I would prefer to use a pencil and a larger notebook moving forward. I chose a small size, but found this difficult to write in. I still feel that my digital devices are a necessary part of my life though.