Media Consumption Overtakes Sleep


A new report suggests the average Brit spends more time using media devices than they do sleeping. But that claim comes with a catch.

The report comes from Ofcom, the British equivalent to the Federal Communications Commission. It surveyed the media consumption of 2,800 adults and children over one week.

Ofcom’s summary of the report says the average adult spends eight hours and forty-one minutes using media or communications compared with eight hours and twenty-one minutes sleeping.

According to Ofcom, that figure doesn’t involve double-counting. The total combined daily time on the various media types was more than 11 hours. That’s up two hours on the last comparable survey in 2010, something Ofcom attributes to more multitasking of “using” two devices at once. 99 percent of people said they had multitasked at some point, with the most popular combination being to talk on the phone while watching TV.

Many commenters have already noted that the “more time on media than sleeping” has a major flaw: the effect of the workplace. Using the internet is counted as media consumption and that’s something a lot of people do at work (whether for professional or recreational purposes.) The radio figure is also likely to have dragged up the average total significantly: while not everyone who has a radio playing in their office at work will have listed themselves as “listening” to it, those that do will often have racked up as many as eight hours.

TV remains the most popular individual media form, with the average person watching three hours 52 minutes, though that’s the first time it’s dropped below four hours. That figure’s boosted heavily by children: among adults, daily viewing is just under three hours.

Meanwhile the average child spends almost exactly as much time in “text communications” (which covers texting, instant messaging and e-mail) as they do watching TV — probably because they spend a lot of time doing both at once.

The report also makes the somewhat scary¬†point that the majority of today’s teenagers will have no memory of dial-up Internet, let alone a time before web use was common.


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