Brits spend more than a third of their time awake ‘addicted’ to smartphone apps

People across the UK spend an average of 4.8 hours per day on smartphone apps, according to a new report which shows the scale of Britain's smartphone addiction.

A study from App Annie found that global smartphone usage has boomed during the coronavirus pandemic, with 230 billion apps downloaded and £125bn spent.

Apps like TikTok have driven the surge in screentime, with users spending 90% more time on the video app in 2021 than in 2020.

The figures were calculated across 10 countries including the US, Singapore, and of course, the UK, where Ofcom has recorded similar results to back up the findings.

"The big screen is slowly dying as mobile continues to break records in virtually every category – time spent, downloads and revenue," said chief executive of App Annie, Theodore Krantz.

While video apps like TikTok and YouTube predictably dominated people's attention, it wasn't all bad as there was a big rise in wellbeing apps as well as takeaway apps like Deliveroo—proving that at least people are taking care of themselves while they doomscroll.

It's been great for advertisers who trade in smartphone users' personal data, with companies pocketing more than £256 billion from ads on social media and the web.

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Why are smartphones so addictive?

Dr David Greenfield is the founder and medical director of the world's first Internet rehab and the author of 'Overcoming Internet addiction'. He believes that ease of access to Wi-Fi, smartphones, and high-speed Internet is conditioning people to become 'addicted' to the Internet.

He told the StarOnline: "There's lots of reasons why the Internet becomes addictive. But the main reason is that the Internet is the world's largest slot machine, and a smartphone is the world's smallest."

Dr. Greenfield says that, like a slot machine, these apps are based on giving users dopamine, which is a chemical in the brain that stimulates pleasure. "Every time you go on an app or a website, you don't know what you're going to get or how good it's going to be, but once in a while you will see something you like."

"People are being conditioned by their devices to get those hits of dopamine."

If you're concerned about your smartphone usage, it's possible to set time limits on iPhone or Android. Or, just put the phone down and leave it at home while you go for a walk. After all, the key to not getting distracted is to distract yourself.

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