By Habiba Zakaria, Client Sales Lead - Technology & E-Commerce
It seems we are incapable of sitting with our own thoughts, not even for 15 minutes. Seriously, given the option, a flabbergasting number of us would rather electrically shock ourselves, than sit alone quietly and think for just 15 minutes. We spend more than one day a week online and the average Brit checks their phone once every 12 minutes. You can imagine the impact this has on our productivity. Microsoft research revealed that our attention span is now even shorter than that of a goldfish!
So, why are technology brands concerned with this trend?
2018 has been a bumper year for smartphone releases. More than 3/4 of us in the UK have a smartphone. It's our most treasured device, overtaking our love of the TV, an enormous behavioural shift from a decade ago. And yet, we are making fewer phone calls today than ever before. The primary function of the phone has shifted, with the rise of WhatsApp and Messenger usage, 92% of us feel it is more important to browse the web.
There is a lot of evidence that technology can be addictive, impacting our mental health, social development and the quality of our relationships. For many of us in the UK, the smartphone pervades everyday life. It is our personal assistant, responsible for waking us up in the morning, reminding us of our daily meetings, their location and how to get there and ensuring we get home via the most time efficient route, avoiding any roadblocks or train delays. Often the usage doesn't end there of course. There are many entertainment, news and dating apps (to name a few) to keep us entertained throughout the evening. All UK households with children have an internet connection and a consequence of this is that Generation Z say that they find it hard to take a break from being online. You can see that it's not just you who's having trouble sleeping or finding you're becoming easily distracted.
Many tech companies are now helping you to spend less time on your phone with new functionality. Apple's "Screen Time" and "Downtime" tools allow you to set your own digital limits for you and your kids. Apple, Samsung ("SideSync)"and Google ("Digital Wellbeing") all aim at giving us back control, if we dare. There is something terrifying about quantifying just how many minutes per day are spent scrolling, swiping, clicking and generally having the most intense relationship, and realising that it's with an inanimate object. A beautifully designed hardware device that many of us feel would be the hardest to give up. 62% of 16-24 year olds seem to feel this way about their smartphone. The instant gratification is just too hard to resist.
Having difficulty sleeping? So do I. 'Blue light' is often the culprit on this one, throwing your body clock into day mode, at night. There's some solutions from Apple's "Night Shift" and Google's "Wind Down" features, both attempting to limit blue light at night to help you catch those much needed zzzs.
In my role at Oath focusing on the technology and e-commerce sectors, I work with brands to better understand their unique goals, to see how our advertising solutions, editorial brands, and creative tech can help them drive more meaningful engagement with their customers. I am passionate about technology and how it connects us - to each other, to distant family members to old friends who've moved halfway around the world. It would be negligent however to overlook the 'dark side' of technology. At HuffPost, we have dedicated channels focused on Lifestyle and Wellbeing and likewise with Yahoo Wellbeing.
In October, Tumblr partnered with Made of Millions charity and RYOT Studio to explore the hidden depths and complexities of Mental Health. 'SEEN' was their unique, AR-enabled art exhibition, which used art and technology to tackle perceptions of mental health to reveal that often what you see isn't always what you get.
My two cents...
With the wonderful jingling countdown of Christmas upon us, whether you're a die-hard Mariah Carey fan or more of a proudly disgruntled Ebenezer, you do you. Whatever this holiday season means for you, I invite you to be brave and take a break from the scrolling, the swiping, the liking. Spend time making real connections. Strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger on the train, in the supermarket queue or with a busker you've walked past a hundred times. If the thought of being at home is perfectly terrifying, go to a soup kitchen. Or stay at home, be silly and play with your niece or nephew. Light someone up this Christmas.
I know you will have cooked the best looking turkey in town, or some Bake Off worthy masterpiece. Before you rush to post it on Instagram or Facebook, then wait to see how many views or likes roll in, may I suggest to you... pause. Feel that strong pull. Then decide to keep the secret all to yourself and revel in the knowledge that you were the best.
If you want to hear more from Habiba on how Oath can support your tech or telco brand, drop her an email.