I’m SMSing you from the next room

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iol scitech pic text dating . Researchers and tech-watchers have long understood that the chirping, insatiable temptations of our little screens change the way we interact with other people 'IRL' (in real life).

London - They’re meant to help us keep in touch while we’re on the go.

But nearly half of us use mobile phones so that we don’t have to go anywhere at all.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed admitted they used phones and computers to communicate with friends and family in the same house, preferring to call, text, email or tweet rather than go into the next room.

And one in five would rather speak on the phone or via social media such as Facebook and Twitter than face-to-face, the study found.

Three-quarters of the 2,500 adults surveyed said they would struggle to go for just one day without gadgets such as phones, laptops and MP3 players.

The rise in the number of portable devices has created a generation of people who cannot switch off, with a quarter admitting they check their emails and messages in bed and one in ten in the bathroom.

And the number of people who named their smartphone as the possession they would most hate to lose was double the number who said it was their wedding or engagement ring.

The Halifax Insurance Digital Home Index found that, on average, British women each own £4,058 (about R50 000) worth of technology devices. For men, the figure is £4,294.

Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman said: “As the amount of time spent looking at a screen or plugging in increases, the amount of time spent on direct eye-to-eye contact and developing real-life relationships inevitably decreases.

“By the age of seven years, the average child born today will have spent one full year of 24 hour days watching screen technology; by the time they reach 80 they will have spent almost 18 years of 24 hour days watching non-work related screen technology. That’s a quarter of their lives.” - Daily Mail

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