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Majority of Irish adults wish they spent less time on their devices, says Deloitte survey

More than a third of respondents check their phone at least 50 times a day

21 November 2022

The smartphone is well and truly ingrained in our daily lives but potentially impacts our social interactions and sleep, a new Deloitte digital trends study has found. Access to smartphones in Ireland remains consistent year on year with 94% of 18 to 75-year-olds having access to one.

The majority of adults (51%) wish they spent less time on devices, with the 18 to 34-year-olds being more likely than other age groups to say so (63%). Six in 10 (59%) of us use a smartphone as soon as we wake up, according to the survey. This is highest among 18 to 34-year-olds (71%) and among women (66% say so compared to 52% of men).

Similarly, half of respondents tend to stay awake later than planned because they are using devices into the night, rising to 62% and 64% of those aged between 18-24 and 25-34 years respectively. Accessing social media platforms (64%) and instant messaging (62%) apps remains the top activity for smartphone users – both increasing on 2021 (58% and 61% respectively).

“Over the last two years through the Covid-19 pandemic, technology connected us while we had to stay apart,” said Kehoe. “Technology continues to keep us connected, with smartphone access remaining at 94%, with access to the old reliables such as tablets and laptops, continuing their downward trend – having peaked in 2017.”

Kehoe continued: “36% of respondents check their phone at least 50 times a day, with 16% checking it at least 100 times a day. We can see that the percentage of respondents across all age categories checking their phone at least 50 times a day, increasing since 2021. While, these are great and useful devices, we need to be aware they can have a negative impact on our social interactions and sleep patterns.”

The smart home

The smart home continues to take hold with smart TVs growing to 66%, up from 44% five years ago. Voice assisted speakers have been the largest increase over the same period, up from 3% in 2017 to 32% this year – and 58% of us use them daily. Overall, 88% of respondents now own at least one connected device. Gaming consoles use also continues to grow, up 3% to 41%.

Access to video streaming services subscription is stable at 75%. Netflix is the overwhelming leader in streaming services, used by two in three respondents, followed by Disney+ at 33% and Amazon Prime at 29%. We do not just use one provider either; in 2019 on average each subscriber had 1.2 subscriptions, this has risen to 2.2 in 2022.

The rate at which new subscribers are signing up appears to be falling, with only 20% of respondents adding a new subscription in the previous 12 months, down from 25% in 2021. Cancellation rates in the previous 12 months have also increased from 15% to 20%.

“The key driver for cancellation remains the lack of usage,” continued Kehoe, “however, as consumers face increasing pressure with the rising cost of living, 2022 seems to indicate a more cost-centric subscriber with cancellation because of the cost of the service, rising from 12% in 2021 to 22% in 2022. Despite the fact cancellation rates are rising, 12% are also resubscribing. This is primarily driven by content with 32% signing up for a new season of their favourite show.

“There has been much coverage around Netflix’s plans to restrict account sharing and looking at their subscription model by introducing ads to lower the monthly fee. Interestingly, 42% of respondents would be interested in ad-based subscriptions, either with advertising covering half or all of the subscription costs. Watch this space as it is one that has real potential for growth.”

Smart devices

Wearable devices continue to rise in popularity with 50% of smartphone owners having access to one. Similar to trends observed in other countries, access to a smart watch has increased (8% growth to 32%), however access to fitness bands has dropped (- 5% to 28%) potentially indicating consumer preferences for more multifunctional wrist devices, such as the smart watch.

The age demographics highlights a difference, with smart watches being the clear preference for the 18–34-year-olds and fitness bands being preferred by the 55–75-year-olds.

More than half (55%) of those who have a wearable or smart watch monitor their steps, 33% monitor heart rate and 29% monitor their sleeping patterns with women more actively monitoring than men (80% women vs 64% men).

“The smartphone is now the preferred device to browse shopping websites (2021: laptop), making online purchases, for online searches, checking bank balances and gaming (2021: consoles),” Daryl Hanberry, partner and head of technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte said. “For those over 55, the laptop remains the preferred device for most of these activities. The TV remains the preferred device for streaming, watching live TV and using catch up services.“

TechCentral Reporters

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