2016: What could you do in 3 hours?

Do you know, on average, we spend over 20 hours a week online in the UK?  That’s nearly 3 hours a day for every person.  The important question is, what exactly are we doing on there – and is it a good thing?

Well, according to the most recent report by Ofcom, the UK is surfing its way through the following regular activities…

  • 23% of us check our social media more than 10x a day and a further 41% of us between 2-10 times
  • We spend an average of 5.6 hours per week gaming
  • 86% of us do “general browsing and searching" (read into that what you will, but our best guess is searching cat videos, old exes and our own names.)
  • Watching video occupies time for at least 31% of us on a weekly basis
  • 85% of us like buying things online, with a quarter of us doing this at least weekly
  • We are definitely online social butterflies.  79% of us send emails at least weekly, and 58% and 22% use IM or video/telephone calls online.
  • And let’s not forget banking.  With a whacking 42% of us paying bills and checking whether we have any money left every week after all of the above activities.

But here’s the sad part.

  • Only 1 in 10 (or 8%) of the UK say they maintain their own website on a weekly basis
  • 7% dedicate weekly time to learning something new through an online course
  • 54% (not so bad) and 29% of us take photos and videos respectively on our smartphone

And did you know the Top 15 UK visited websites of December 2015?  Well, you do now.


Any list that includes Facebook, Theladbible and Dailymail is bound to mould the next generation of geniuses right? (cue wry emoji right here.)

So what’s the problem?  We’re all having a lovely time virtually creating relationships, learning about the world through others’ opinions and primarily checking our facts on barely-moderated sources.

The problem is not what we ARE doing.  The problem is what we COULD be doing.

Because, for every mind-numbing minute we are spending scrolling through another feed, we could have learned something new, expanded our skills, prepared ourselves for the next tech generation or even, scarily enough, spent some time in the real world.

And these activities are having serious impacts on our cognitive thinking and development, especially those of the littlest minds among us, whose pathways are not yet formed.  Online activities such as social media and gaming have been shown to be potentially as addictive as some drugs, and we could just be walking into the biggest legal addiction problem since someone said, “Hey, do you want a codeine – they’re from the doctor?"

Teenagers waking up in the middle of the night just to check their “like" status; toddlers lulling themselves to sleep with a snuggly iPad; couples living together in different worlds – it’s like a strange desire for isolation is sucking us all in like social lemmings.  But hey, don’t just take our word for it, do some “general browsing" for studies on social media or online gaming addiction – or save yourself the trouble and watch this neat little video from asapScience


Call us over-anxious, over-the-top or downright technophobes but, at CX Marketing, we had a NY resolution.  And that was to stop wasting our time on mindlessness and start applying it to better things.  Things like… creativity… innovation… interaction… and physicality.

We all know that the UK is sleepwalking into a critical shortage of digital and creative skills. In the 2014 BCC Workforce survey, over 20% of businesses surveyed stated that they were facing a skills shortage in both computer literacy and creativity. Sure we can all navigate our way around a smartphone and filter an image until it’s Vogue-ready. But, in terms of equipping our current and future generations with the necessary skills and knowledge to contribute to a growing online world, we have about as much digital relevance as Windows Vista on the day it launched.

Thanks to an influx of UX-designed apps, platforms and devices, the need to think for ourselves is gradually being eroded. I’m sorry Steve Krug, I worship your book like a God at the UX altar, but isn’t maybe time for us to use that grey matter a bit more? Having everything presented to us on a plate is a sure-fire way to lose our abilities to problem-solve, analyse and question.  And while we’re digitally watching someone else’s take on the world, we’re not creating our own.

How could you use those 3 hours a day?

Just think what you could be doing with those 3 hours a day instead?  Got a NY resolution to get fit?  If you did a squat thrust every time you went to check a status, those buns of steel would be baking in no time. We’re not saying social media doesn’t play its part, it just shouldn’t do so at the expense of everything else.  So, if you’d rather not see your life through a 5.5 inch screen anymore, here is our guide on how to not sleepwalk yourself into a nation of #selfiezombies.

How to get off social and get busy living.

  1. Log your online hours.  Just like a food diary, keep a digital diary of what you do online and for how long.  Keep a record of how much time you actually spend mindlessly viewing other people’s crap. We’re sure the results will shock you.  (Just for the off the record, one of us here recorded 1.5 hours a day on Facebook alone…gulp.)

  2. Set yourself something else to achieve with this time.  Perhaps a new skill?  Learn to code and make the next Facebook. Reach a new running personal best.  Build a bloody robot!

  3. Turn that social media or game off.  Go cold turkey for a bit.  Or, if you can’t face it, limit yourself to fixed times during the day.  But, please, don’t use it in bed – use that space for lovely things like sleep and…well…lovely things.

  4. Turn off the unnecessary.  Anything that doesn’t bring something positive or nurturing into your life, switch it off!  Now’s the time to unfollow all of those mildly racist Facebook friends, get rid of all those apps that fill your day with notifications that you’re never going to read.

  5. Make a conscious effort to create your own version of the world.  Don’t automatically reach for your phone every time you have a moment.  Watch the people around you at the bus stop; enjoy that time on the toilet doing what nature intended. There is no digital screen in the world can compare with the clarity your own eyes and brain can afford you.

  6. Stop doing 2 things at once.  Multi-tasking isn’t big or clever.  It just makes you more likely to be distracted and less likely to do a good job at one thing.

  7. Help our next generation to be an army of creators, not consumers.  Lobby your school and college to think differently about the curriculum – work with companies, freelancers and coder clubs.  Oh, and don’t rely on electronic devices as cheap babysitters.

  8. Set something that you’re going to contribute to society in 2016.

  9. Watch Silicon Valley. This is content that you are allowed to consume.  Get inspired to build your own Whatsapp or Tinder. (And laugh out loud while you’re doing it.)

  10. Stop reading this. Now. Really.  Go and do something.  Then, come back online only when you’re able to post something you’ve made or achieved.

It only remains for us to say. “Go forth humans. And good luck."

With thanks and recognition to the following sources:
Ofcom’s Media Use and Attitudes 2015 report
2014 BCC Workforce Survey