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How long are you staring at a screen each day?

If you feel like you’re constantly hooked to a screen, you could be right – as new research reveals that Brits will spend the equivalent of 22 years, one month and four days of their life staring at a screen of some sort.

A study of 2,000 adults found the typical week will see 59 hours – the equivalent of more than two full days – spent using the internet. This amounts to 128 days a year, or 22 years over an adult lifetime.

During a week, seven hours and 55 minutes is spent streaming TV shows and films, three hours and 10 minutes on video calls and four hours and 42 minutes listening to music online. A further four hours and 57 minutes a week are dedicated to social media while one hour and 55 minutes is taken up with online life admin. And an average of four hours and 36 minutes is spent online gaming.

Office workers are staring at a screen even longer

For those whose job involves using computers and being online, the equivalent of 47 days a year are spent using the internet for work purposes. It also emerged that this reliance on being online means more than three quarters of adults use two or more devices each day to stay connected, including mobile phones (59 per cent), tablets (37 per cent) and smart TVs (28 per cent).

But the huge amount of time they spent online leaves 57 per cent of people worry about being ‘at risk’ of online fraud or being hacked. This may be because 59 per cent have accepted cookies on websites, 36 per cent use the same password for multiple accounts and 25 per cent have saved bank details to a device.

The research was commissioned by NordVPN, a Virtual Private Network service which provides secure online browsing. Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN, said: “The pandemic has changed the way we use the internet, as our lifestyles have forced us to change our online behaviour too.”

“Streaming is now more popular than ever and social media has become an inevitable part of our daily lives. This makes internet users look for ways to pass the time at home while sacrificing their mental health, sleep, or healthy screen time.”

“Compulsively scrolling through social media for negative news – or doomscrolling, a word named word of the year 2020 by the Oxford English Dictionary – boredom, connection, entertainment, online shopping — these are just a few reasons people got obsessed with the online world during the pandemic.”

“Britons are using apps, social networks, and video platforms to fill the gap left after their social lives were taken away. The internet has therefore become the biggest time-consumer of the day. But despite all the great benefits the internet brings, people should remain vigilant against the cyber threats lurking around many of the online procedures.”

Half of us can’t go a whole day without screens

The study also found more than half of those polled admitted they couldn’t imagine going a whole day without being online. And the average time people start browsing the internet each day is 8:52am – and they don’t log off until 21:25pm. A further 47 per cent ‘rely’ on connection a daily basis for the likes of banking (70 per cent), shopping (48 per cent) and their social life (44 per cent).

But Brits are guilty of sharing personal information online, including their date of birth (61 per cent), full address (56 per cent) and job title (27 per cent). A further 21 per cent have posted images of themselves and their family, 61 per cent have revealed their full name and 10 per cent have even shared their child’s name. Other ways people have put themselves at risk include not using VPN’s or antivirus software (14 per cent), agreeing to all ‘permissions’ (23 per cent) and opening links within spam emails (15 per cent).

The study, carried out via OnePoll, also found the average adult has 13 online accounts and 22 per cent admitted they never update their passwords. These accounts include Facebook (62 per cent), personal emails (78 per cent) and online clothing store log ins (40 per cent). Worryingly, almost half of respondents know someone who has been hacked via the internet – 17 per cent of which were the victim themselves.

Markuson added: “The pandemic has tremendously accelerated the shift towards a more digital world, and cyber-attacks have increased with it. As the remote working culture and online connectivity continue to thrive, Brits must not forget to always hover the mouse over the sender’s email address to verify its authenticity and only open attachments from trusted senders.

“If you have any doubts about a received email, do not hesitate to discuss the case with someone else before responding. Cybercriminals see the pandemic as an opportunity to escalate their criminal activities by exploiting the vulnerability of people working from home. They are also capitalizing on people’s strong interest in the coronavirus and vaccines-related news”.