At Collaborate Bristol 2017, we watched a plethora of talks all designed to provoke thought into the way we operate, use and design technology. However, one talk that really resonated with the team and sparked a particular interest was that of Hany Rizk, user experience strategy and design at Volkswagen Carmeq. Hany delved into a conversation about digital addicts and the reliance we place on our technology and in particular, our smartphones. Therefore, we wanted to pose the question, are you a digital addict?


Addiction is defined as ‘the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.’ The average person is said to engage in 132 sessions on their smartphone per day if they’re a heavy user or 76 if they are not, clearly making it a regular habit. It was also recently revealed that 87 per cent of survey participants check their phone at least once between midnight and 5am, which may not come as much of a surprise to those who sleep with their phones next to the bed. But despite all of this information, would you still regard yourself as a digital addict?

Out of all of the apps that we use on a daily basis, Facebook is still the most used and continues to dominate the app market. However, we only need to look at how this social platform operates in terms of alerting us every time we have a new notification and then once we are in the app and perhaps watching video content, it automatically loads the next video without the user having to click anything. This can be a dangerous routine and can lead to users spending more time on the app than originally intended. This theory can also be applied to Netflix, which automatically plays the next episode or related movie and only asks ‘are you still watching?’ after hours of consumption.

Social apps that we use on a daily basis are designed for the user to revisit numerous times on a daily basis. For example, Instagram shows your likes on a photo in individual notifications as they come through, Snapchat has conversational streaks to encourage you to continue conversations through the platform on a daily basis and Twitter alerts you when there’s a tweet that they think you’ll be interested in. So is it really our fault if we’ve become addicted to our smartphones?

Studies have shown that we receive an average 50-100 notifications per day, meaning that our lives are heavily relying upon our smartphones, particularly if we use it for business purposes. However, if after reading the above content you believe that you may have a digital usage problem, there are ways to lessen your digital addiction.

These methods include:

  • Monitoring the usage of your phone or device through a tracking app
  • Turning off notifications for each app, meaning that you’re not notified of anything urgent if it’s not necessary
  • Setting notifications to tell people when you do not want to be disturbed
  • Leaving your phone in another room past a certain time to ensure you get a restful sleep