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UK adults now spend more than a quarter of their waking day online

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24 June, 2020

Use of social media and video-chatting platform has soared during lockdown, an Ofcom study has found, and adults are now spending more time than ever online as a result.

Ofcom’s annual Online Nation report found that adults in the UK were online for an average of just over four hours in April this year – up from three-and-a-half hours in September.

Social media and video-chatting apps were the main beneficiaries, with a massive 71 per cent of adults now using video calls at least weekly to stay in touch with their networks – up from 35 per cent before the outbreak.

Houseparty grew from 175,000 adult visitors in January to 4 million in April, while Zoom jumped from 659,000 UK adults to a staggering 13 million over the same period. On the social media front, TikTok climbed from 5.4m UK adult users in January to 12.9m in April, while the live-streaming games platform Twitch rose from 2.3m to 4.2m adults.

But although these apps and services have proved essential to help people feel connected through these lockdown, 87 per cent of adults – and 79% of 8-15 year olds – said they had concerns about young people using them. Bullying or trolling, harmful or age-inappropriate content and receiving private messages from strangers were among the top concerns.

The lockdown has also significantly affected how people consume entertainment. Live TV has seen a dramatic decrease as people have flocked to on-demand streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ and one in three who participated in the study revealed they were now watching more content on streaming services than mainstream TV.

Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s director of strategy and research, said: “Lockdown may leave a lasting digital legacy. The coronavirus has radically changed the way we live, work and communicate online, with millions of people using online video services for the first time.

“As the way we communicate evolves and people broaden their online horizons, our role is to help ensure that people have a positive experience, and that they’re safe and protected.”

Since lockdown began, many parents have had to rethink their approach to screen time – children and young people are spending more time online not only for entertainment, but also for schoolwork and staying connected to their social circles.

Head over to our NEW Screen time hub to find articles with sensible, evidence-based advice to help you manage your child’s online activities.

Image: Thought Catalog/Unsplash


Parent Zone’s Screen time hub