60% of British teenagers, 37% of adults “highly addicted” to their smartphones

A recent British study found that many teenagers are “highly addicted” to their smartphones:

Britons’ appetite for Facebook and social networks on the go is driving a huge demand for smartphones – with 60% of teenagers describing themselves as “highly addicted” to their device – according to new research by the media regulator, Ofcom…

The study, published on Thursday, also shows that smartphones have begun to intrude on our most private moments, with 47% of teenagers admitting to using their device in the toilet. Only 22% of adults confessed to the same habit. Unsurprisingly, mobile-addicted teens are more likely than adults to be distracted by their phones over dinner and in the cinema – and more would answer their phone if it woke them up…

Of the new generation of smartphone users, 60% of teenagers classed themselves as “highly addicted” to their device, compared to 37% of adults.

Ofcom surveyed 2,073 adults and 521 children and teenagers in March this year. The regulator defines teenagers as aged between 12 and 15, with adults 16-years-old and above.

Perhaps these results are not that surprising but it leads to several thoughts about addiction:

1. Since this is self-reported, couldn’t the percentage of teenagers and adults who are “highly addicted” actually be higher? If asked, how many people would admit to being “highly addicted” to things that they were actually addicted to?

2. That this many people were willing to say that they are “highly addicted” suggests that this addiction is probably considered to be normal behavior. If everyone or most people are actually addicted to using their smartphones, doesn’t this turn into a norm rather than an addiction in the eyes of the public? In twenty years, when these teenagers are the ones running these surveys, they may not use the same language or terms to describe phone/mobile device/computer use.