March 15, 2018


by William Turner in News

New Red Agency YouGov Galaxy research reveals Aussie concerns around screen addiction

New research has revealed that while smartphones may have set us free from our desks and turned us into instant photographers, it has given rise to an insidious new problem – deemed ‘FOSO’ – fear of switching off. So much so, that 85% of full-time workers now regularly check their work-related emails outside of work hours.

The study, conducted by YouGov Galaxy, commissioned by leading PR consultancy, Red Agency, revealed the amount of time young people spend staring at screens is the biggest technology worry for Australians in 2018. Two in three people (64%) are concerned about what Red Agency has dubbed the ‘head down generation’, moving through life with their faces seemingly permanently buried in their devices.

The new report, Red Sky Predictions, produced by Red Agency, which puts a spotlight on the marketing and communications industry, highlights more than eight in ten (84%) of us have slept with a mobile phone in our bedroom, including 61% who have it by their side most nights. Millennials are the most likely to take their device to bed, with more than three quarters (79%) sleeping with it and 60% checking social media in bed most nights.

James Wright, CEO of Red Agency, said the study highlights that while the hands-free nature of mobile devices has made an ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle a reality, the device itself has become so intrinsic to daily social functioning that we’re unable to check out.

“Our new research highlights there is an uncontrollable need to always remain connected to the digital world. We have become a ‘head down generation’. Some are going as far as sleeping with the ‘enemy’, with mobile phones a standard staple in the bedroom – our go-to first thing in the morning and the last thing we say goodnight to before bed. As a nation, we clearly can’t help ourselves!” says Wright.

There is a price to pay with personal phone use and that of others leaving us wired and tired, buoyed and annoyed; 73% who sleep with a mobile phone in the bedroom have had their sleep interrupted (apart from alarms). When it comes to device-driven anti-social behaviour, 88% have been on the receiving end of other people texting during a conversation or using their phone while having dinner (87%).
The results also uncovered, for one in five Millennials (19%), the switch to ditch the screen lasts mere minutes. Regardless of age, most of us can’t sustain a long-term change in habitual screen staring, with less than one in ten able to maintain a digital diet of reduced online screen time for a whole week.

The findings follow Red Agency’s Dis/Connect report last year which found Millennials are the loneliest generation with 67% feeling lonely regularly or at least occasionally while one in six 18-34 year olds (16%) admitted to feeling lonely every day.

Wright said we should be aware of the hyper-state of being ‘always-on’ that has given rise to FOSO and has made Australians focus on the digital world rather than physical.

“Although we’re seemingly growing more connected as a global society through the bridge that is the digital sphere, we’re missing real time opportunities to engage with our co-workers, communities and families.

“Even if it’s just for few moments, it’s time we drop the phone, step away from the computer and just switch off.”


The YouGov Galaxy study was conducted online among a nationally-representative sample of Australians.