Average usage of smartphones by Indians is estimated to have gone up 25 per cent to almost 7 hours a day as people depend on these gadgets for work/study from home and entertainment amid the pandemic, a report said.
The study, commissioned by handset maker Vivo and conducted by CMR, said the average time spent on smartphones in a day has been on the rise with average usage growing 11 per cent to 5.5 hours in March 2020 (pre-COVID) from about 4.9 hours on average in 2019.
This has grown by another 25 per cent to 6.9 hours April onwards (post-COVID), the report titled 'Smartphones and their impact on human relationships 2020', said.
The report noted that since lockdown, Indians have been spending more time on their smartphone for work from home (75 per cent increase), calling (63 per cent rise), and OTT (over the top services like Netflix, Spotify etc) that has seen 59 per cent growth in time spent on smartphones.
There has also been a 55 per cent increase in time spent on social media, and 45 per cent rise in time spent gaming on smartphones. Interestingly, the average duration of clicking pictures and taking selfies has increased from 14 minutes to 18 minutes in a day.
The study comprised 2,000 respondents aged 15-45 years across top eight cities (four metros, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune) with 70 per cent male and 30 per cent female participants.
Speaking to PTI, Vivo India Director Brand Strategy Nipun Marya said the company commissioned a similar study last year as well on smartphones and their impact on human relationships.
"We all know smartphones are a great tool, especially in a COVID situation where we would have been rendered almost unproductive without smartphones...However, excessive usage of smartphones or anything else, when not used in moderation, that can lead to adverse effects and this is why we did the study," he explained.
Marya noted that there has been an organic growth of smartphones from 2019 to 2020 but COVID has certainly accelerated some of the trends that otherwise would have grown much slowly.
"Overall, smartphones are a great tool but what it is leading to is a lot of addiction. For example, 84 per cent people check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up, and 46 per cent respondents said they pick up the phone at least five times in an hour-long conversation meeting with friends," he said.
Marya said while consumption may come down from the current levels as the situation eases around the pandemic, some of these changes could be permanent.
Seven in every eight respondents said people point out their usage of phones while with them.
The report said people are spending more time with their family with a 26 per cent increase being seen in average time spent (from 4.4 hours pre-COVID to 5.5 hours post-COVID) but most respondents also agreed that their smartphone usage has had an impact on the quality of time spent with loved ones.
About 74 per cent said they get moody and irritable when they stop using their mobile phone, while 73 per cent said they "feel compelled" to constantly check their smartphone.
About 74 per cent respondents agreed that it's important for them to have a life separate from their mobile phones, about 73 per cent agreeing that they would be happier if they spent less time on their smartphones.
About 70 per cent agreed that if their usage continues at the current rate or grows, it is likely to impact their mental or physical health.
About 74 per cent respondents said periodically switching off mobile phone usage can actually help them spend more time with family, and 70 per cent agreed that their mobile phone usage is adversely impacting their relationships with people, especially near and dear ones.
"However, there is a clear gap between realising one should switch off their phones and actually turning the device off. As a brand, vivo India aims to sensitise people about the benefits of 'responsible use' of smartphones through the second edition of this study," Marya said.
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