Are mobile phones the one thing we can't live without?

03 July 2021

Corinne Webb

banner of mobiles

We all know that we may have a slight dependence on our phones, with some studies suggesting that we check our devices every five minutes out of force of habit. During the pandemic especially, mobile phones have been our one constant companion, allowing us to stay in touch with loved ones amid national lockdowns, keep up with work on the go, and alleviate boredom during regular daily activities.

This raises the question: are our phones the one thing that we cannot live without?

To find out, we conducted a survey of 2000 mobile phone users, asking them a series of questions about their favourite items. One of these questions investigated which items or activities they could go no longer than a day without.

Unsurprisingly, mobile phones were in the top 3. However, it was Wi-Fi that topped the list as over 60 percent of Brits revealed they could not go longer than a day without it.

image showing things respondents couldnt go a day without
Top 10 Things Respondents Couldn't Go A Day Without

  1. Wi-Fi – 61%
  2. Tea/Coffee – 53%
  3. Mobile phone – 51%
  4. Showering/Bathing – 46%
  5. TV – 38%
  6. Pets – 34%
  7. Snacks – 23%
  8. Going outside for exercise – 22%
  9. Reading for leisure – 20%
  10. Car – 18%

As would be expected in the UK, tea/coffee came in second on the list with 53% of respondents seemingly more desperate to get a caffeine hit than scroll their mobile phones. As the nation’s drinking habits have become predominately home-based throughout the last year, it is safe to say we all love a good cuppa!

Despite ranking third, it does seem that the UK could be a nation of mobile phone fanatics, with over 50 percent of respondents admitting they would be lost without their phone for a whole day.

In contrast, when we look at which items and activities respondents viewed as least important to daily life, it was ‘gambling’ surprisingly as the number one activity people could go longer than a day without, with only two percent admitting they couldn’t.

This is despite recent reports showing searches for online gambling reached an all-time high last year.

image showing things respondents could go a day without
 Top 10 Things Respondents Could Go A Day Without

  1. Gambling - 2%
  2. Retail shopping – 3%
  3. Beer – 3%
  4. Seeing friends – 4%
  5. Wine – 4%
  6. Video games – 6%
  7. Seeing family – 12%
  8. Microwave – 16%

Retail shopping also ranks relatively low, with only 3 percent revealing they could not go longer than a day without it. Interestingly, almost a third of the nation feel they could not last longer than a month without a bit of retail therapy (31%).

As identified, we do have a clear dependance on our phones, so what could be more stressful than losing your phone? Another question in our survey was comparing the thought of losing your phone vs other stressful situations life can throw at you.

image showing people worried about losing phone

Our findings revealed 1 in 3 people are more worried about losing their phone than life changing events such as going through a divorce, being fired from their job, or suffering from money troubles.

We also looked at which situations users found most stressful when using their phones. Running out of battery was the number one worry for smartphone users (55%), followed by losing signal (45%) and texting the wrong person (27%).Total exceeds 100% because respondents were able to select multiple answers.

picture showing running out of battery is a concern for people

Despite recent studies finding that over 36 percent of UK residents are relying on mobile data due to the additional strain on nationwide broadband connections caused by the lockdowns, only 10 percent of people in our study admitted that they found exceeding contract limits stressful.

Our study also revealed another concern: almost 85 percent of smartphone users state they are uncomfortable or very uncomfortable with giving their phone to a child.

picture showing many people are concerned about their child using their mobile phone

For many parents, this is unavoidable if they do not have the appropriate resources to carry out home-schooling. Fortunately for UK parents, the government has now launched a scheme that aims to provide laptops and tablets to struggling families.

According to our survey, respondents revealed that they were most afraid of their child dropping their phone (46%), followed by deleting content (37%) and in-app purchases (31%).


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