The Youth Lab

Breaking Up With The Smartphone

"Honestly, my phone is the center of everything I do. I lost my phone and I couldn't function for 10 days" – Vanisha, 22, The Love Network


71% of Youth Culture Uncovered respondents admitted that they 'would find it difficult to go about my day to day life without my phone’. 37% went so far as to agree that 'their phone is a part of who they are.'

It's no secret that in the last decade the smartphone has infiltrated near every aspect of our lives. Now, young people are beginning to understand why barriers need to be reinstalled. It's affecting how we feel, and how we relate to other REAL-LIFE, IN-THE-FLESH humans.

"I'm on my phone quite a lot and I think it does affect the mood - especially in groups of people - I know when I was away last week - there was no signal in Georgia - you do a lot more talking - not only to your friends, but to the people you met over there as well. You actually talk more as opposed to being on your phone, staring, looking at the same thing the person 2 foot away is looking at"Ciaran, 28, The Love Network

Young people increasingly want to spend their time 'well', which for many breaking the bond with their phone, whether that means deleting apps, charging their phone outside of their bedroom, or even enforcing a phone curfew. 42% of respondents in Youth Culture Uncovered admitted that they had tried and failed to spend less time on their phone. There is a clear desire among young people to de-screen, but they are finding it difficult. There is hope though!


Nature, the long-time antidote to the hectic nature of modern times, has reemerged as the ultimate soother for young people seeking a break from digital infiltration. Now, people only spend about 5% of their time outside– this includes commuting to work. By comparison, we spend about 50% of our time in front of a screen – longer than we do sleeping.

As a result, young people are consciously refocusing on themselves and seeking therapeutic calm away from screens, in nature;

"In terms of mental health, yeah definitely, try and go out for walks and get out and see things - fresh air - and not just sit at the computer all day - although it can be very difficult - for one, like I must go for a walk, otherwise I'll be in the house for like 18 hours and I've been staring at the screen"Aurora, 24, The Love Network

Brand Takeouts

  • Though young people can easily be accessed through their phones, there is an opportunity to deliver a value exchange that enable off-screen time and experiences that go back to nature and more physical forms of existence. Facilitate switch offs, escape to nature and breathe.

See also

Digital rationing: Trying to switch off, while still being connected
Digital rationing: Trying to switch off, while still being connected

In 2014, Ofcom released a study that claimed that 16-24 year olds were squeezing 14 hours and 7 minutes of media consumption, into each day...