Mobile phone addiction and the all-consuming pressures of social media are phenomena most closely associated with teenagers.
But middle-aged women may find it just as hard to put away their phones – and social media can have toxic effects on their self-esteem too, a poll has found.
Almost a quarter of women in their 30s and one in five in their 40s admit to checking their phone every few minutes – or around 200 times a day.
Among those in their 30s, more than two-thirds feel they ‘need’ to check social media regularly, according to a survey of more than 600 women by Marie Claire magazine.
Around half of those in their 30s and 40s say they would not be able to delete their social media accounts – despite admitting feeling jealous of friends or bad about themselves because of what they see on social media. One woman told researchers she had set an alarm to wake up in the night to check her phone, while another said she would regularly look at hers over her baby’s head.
More than two-thirds in their 30s and half in their 40s said they worried about how long they spent on their phone. Overall, two in five thought they might be ‘addicted’.
The poll found 23 per cent of women aged 31 to 40 check their phone every few minutes. If this was every five minutes and they slept for eight hours, this would mean they look at their phone 192 times a day.
Just over half of this age group said social media sometimes made them feel bad about themselves.
A third of those aged 41 to 50 said it negatively affected their self-esteem, while 17 % of this group said they would check their phone every few minutes. Around a third of middle-aged women were concerned that what they posted online was not ‘good enough’, and more than half thought friends had a better life than them based on their social media accounts.
Both groups said Facebook was the platform most likely to harm their self-esteem. Photo-sharing app Instagram was the second-most frequently cited.
In an age when teenagers are feared to have lost the art of conversation, the research also found women in their 30s and 40s feel more comfortable sending texts or using messaging app WhatsApp than speaking on the phone or face-to-face.
Previous research has suggested smartphones are damaging our sleeping patterns because of the blue light they emit – and harming family relationships due to the distraction they provide.