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Gen Z’s Online Obsession: 54% Youngsters Distracted by Obsessive Use of Technology; Finding Ways to Curb Internet Time

Gen Z population accounts for the highest user base in internet usage. Latest Sync research finds that two thirds of young people (18-24-year olds, 58%) want to curb time spent online. According to the report on Gen Z users’ online behavior, 54 percent actually say they find technology use “distracting.” The findings would be used to further investigate the wellbeing impact of excessive internet and social media use on the younger generation.

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Improving one’s health is traditionally a high priority at this time of year, and this increasingly means changing our online behaviours. As friends, families, and colleagues look to reconnect in 2022, digital wellbeing program, Sync, has released a report exploring global developments in internet and social media habits. The program is prioritising research into understanding the impact of excessive use on young people – 58% of whom claim to spend more time online that they would like.

Abdullah Al-Rashid, Director of Sync says: “Sync’s research in collaboration with ASDA’A BCW and PSB Insights proves one of modern society’s greatest contradictions: the benefits, and potentially harmful effects, of our growing reliance on social media. No generation will be more greatly affected than those who have grown up using this technology, with the potential impact on the future of humanity as yet unknown. To help address this phenomenon, we are partnering with leading universities on developing solutions to promote young people’s digital wellbeing.”

Dr. Mark Griffiths, Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University in the UK said: “The latest report by Sync highlights both the advantages and disadvantages of increased time spent online worldwide. Although the positives outweigh the negatives, particularly in relation to social connectivity, the report highlights the potentially distracting nature of new technologies and how technology use can eat into other important activities including educational and occupational duties. I’ve been studying ‘technological addictions’ for 30 years and while the report does not examine the addictiveness of new technologies from a clinical perspective it certainly provides evidence that online technologies can be problematic to a minority, even if it’s not at the level of a clinically diagnosed condition.”

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Highlights of Gen Z report on Online Internet Use

Data illustrates growing concern amongst young people

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  • Two-thirds of Gen Z respondents (58%) claim to spend more time online than they would like to, highlighting the potential adverse effects on physical and mental health.
  • More than one in two (54%) young people say the technology in their life distracts them from day-to-day tasks.
  • The overwhelming majority (69%) of 18-24 year olds say they use messaging apps more now than pre-pandemic, which could prevent reverting to direct contact as the impact abates.

Reflecting on the research Dr. Griffiths continues: “The report provides very interesting perceptions of technology use with the majority thinking online addictions are medical conditions and that some types of technology – such as smartphones – are designed to be addictive even among older individuals. As a researcher I was also pleased to see that over 40% of respondents believe government should fund studies that focus on technological addictions and that the majority believe there should be more resources to treat such addictions. Three-quarters of the respondents thought their own governments should do more to provide high-quality and affordable care for online addictions. These kind of data indicate that online addictions appear to have now permeated public consciousness”

Following this initial report, Sync is proactively exploring the effect of excessive internet and social media use on young adults. This includes future collaborations with University of Milano-Bicocca.

Sync’s collaboration with the Digital Wellbeing Research Center at University of Milano-Bicocca will use a holistic new approach to study college students’ relationship with their smartphones, including impact on concentration and anxiety in different social contexts.

Marco Gui, Director of the Center, says: “Every university student today owns a smartphone, delivering connectivity past generations could only dream of.

But at what cost?

We’re grateful for Sync’s support for our new methodology to investigate the potentially beneficial and harmful effects of being permanently connected.”

The first Sync digital well-being summit will be held on March 29-30 2022, bringing together global thought leaders, institutions, influencers, and the public to raise awareness of digital wellbeing concerns, and develop new ideas to protect the users of digital media worldwide

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