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SA youth between 18 to 26 check their smartphones upwards of 30 times an hour.

Almost 40% said they’d rather skip meals for the day than run out of phone power found the report. Image: Supplied

Almost 40% said they’d rather skip meals for the day than run out of phone power found the report. Image: Supplied

Published May 10, 2022

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New research has found that South African youths between the ages of 18 to 26-year-olds check their smartphones upwards of 30 times an hour.

A study by Adoozy Power found that if each interaction takes an average of 30 seconds (likely a conservative estimate), equates to at least a quarter of every waking day being spent on a mobile device.

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This according to the report is true for almost 30% of young people in the Generation Z, often simply referred to as Gen Z, cohort.

CEO of Adoozy said that the research emphasises the extent to which mobile devices are a way of life for young South Africans.

“A smartphone is more than a must-have, it’s an inseparable extension of their being. Anyone who wants to interact successfully with this audience for any purpose whatsoever – business, leisure, education or on social issues – needs to understand that and embrace the mobile-first culture.” said Peffer.

Peffer said that in South Africa there are additional factors that give young people a form of separation anxiety if they don’t have a working mobile device.

“Personal safety is an obvious one – particularly for at-risk groups such as young females. Smartphones are also a useful provider of mobile internet and email services during loadshedding – for study and work-from-home purposes.” he said.

The study also highlighted that a further 25% of those questioned said they checked their phones at least 10 times an hour, which likely equates to around five minutes an hour or 80-90 minutes per waking day.

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The report adds that this is the same as spending an entire rugby or soccer game on your mobile device – every day of the year.

Adoozy’s report amazingly found that almost 40% said they’d rather skip meals for the day than run out of phone power, while almost a third (30%) reported that they fall asleep with their phone every day.

“And, clearly not wanting to spend valuable time away from their device, an astonishing 85% of 18 to 26-year-olds in the survey admitted to using their phone while on the loo,” the report found.

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SA-based psychologist and co-founder of Klikd, an online resource that promotes safe social media usage, Pam Tudin-Buchalter says that in essence, it’s not so much about being separated from one's phone as it is about missing out. Missing out on updates, news, the ability to connect to others, and even the ability to reject others.

“People were already attached to their cell phones before the pandemic. Since then, our phones really have become a lifeline, helping us to maintain contact when lockdown kept us physically separate from those we love and made it possible for us to work and study remotely. Our phones have also become a fundamental part of our identity and how we capture our lives and memories.” said Peffer.

Among other highlights of the research:

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– Over 80% surveyed said they consider themselves ‘addicted’ to their phones.

– 40% of respondents said they need to charge their phone at least twice a day, with almost 30% saying three or more times a day.

– Most said the worst time for them to run out of phone battery was while out at a party or event. More people are going out now as the economy opens up and Gen Zs are hungry to return to festivals and other gatherings.

– 77% said they feel the need to reply instantly to messages.

– 33% reported running out of data at least once a week.

– Almost 60% reported that if they are left without their phone they feel anxious, unsafe and vulnerable.

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