WWW - Who's Controlling Whom?

How many hours do you spend online each week?  You know when you consult a medical professional and they ask the dreaded question: "How many units of alcohol do you consume a week?"  I think we all know they double it or add 10 or something, well do you think the same applies to how many hours we spend online each week?  Most people would probably offer up a fairly conservative answer to that question, but I bet if we actually monitored it for a week we'd all be horrified!

And what does the nation spend its online time doing?  According to a recent survey of the nation's online habits*, a whopping 85% of us catch up on the news online.  I'm not surprised at this one, as even if you don't actively seek out a news website like BBC Online, little newsflashes appear on lots of other sites, so it can be very tempting to click on 'Big Brother news', 'bomb in Egypt' or whatever.  And of course, this instant accessibility suits our busy 24/7 lifestyle far better than waiting for the next set-time news programme.

The rapid onward march of online shopping shows no signs of relenting, with a huge 18.6% of December's non-food purchases being made via the web, a 19% rise from the previous year**.  And the new global trend of 'showrooming', researching in store then buying cheaper online, is having a huge impact on this growth.  Apparently almost 70% of UK consumers admit to doing this, a trend welcomed by big retailers like John Lewis, but having a detrimental effect on more traditional retailers.

I was certainly an online shopper this Christmas, being nine months pregnant meant I really didn't feel like venturing out to the busy shops, and the cheaper prices found online were a bonus too.

Facebook continues to be the top social media site for the general public, with a huge 63% of the survey sample signed up, while Twitter coming second with just 30% of those surveyed using it.  2014 will undoubtedly see continued growth in Twitter use, as well as newcomers Pinterest and Google+.

But I am amongst the growing proportion of parents concerned about how social media use will affect our children in years to come.  My girls are too young to even know about such things yet, but with more and more older children and teenagers lying about their age to create social media accounts, and spending more time communicating through the Internet than face to face, I am sure it is something we will have to address sooner rather than later.

For me, technology is useful as a tool which we humans control, which serves our needs - for work, for information, for limited social use, for shopping - but I am very concerned by its continual ingress into our daily lives, and would be intrigued to learn just how much different age and social groups use the Internet each week.  Of course I can't knock it, after all my job revolves around this keyboard and this screen (!), but I do question the control technology seems to have over us.  What do you think?  And how many hours a week are you online?  I promise not to double it or add 10! ;-)

* Sample of 1000 respondents, 52% female.
** Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25671561


  1. I think I spend almost the entire day online apart from when I'm at uni, the gym or with a friend/the boyfriend. Most people spend far too long online, it's a shame really and I'm really looking to cut down! Very thought provoking post!



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