smartphone researchMost British teenagers using mobile Internet feel as if they’re addicted to their smartphones. Responding to a survey conducted by market research firm Intersperience they said they’d rather give up TV, Facebook and chocolate rather than their smartphones. Adult mobile Internet users said they’d rather do without make-up, alcohol, cigarettes and coffee.

“The rise in smartphone addiction stems largely from a significant increase in the percentage of people regularly using them to access the Internet,” Intersperience CEO Paul Hudson stated. “This is particularly noticeable among under-18s and it is having a marked effect on their behavior and emotions.”

Mobile phone/Internet addiction is up across all UK age groups that Intersperience surveyed as mobile connections and mobile device adoption rises. Nearly half (48%) of adults said they felt addicted. That compares to 65% of those under 18. Fueled by “a communications boom,” the percentage of British regularly using mobile Internet has jumped to 38% from 24% in 2009, according to Intersperience.

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British teens and adults selected mobile phones as the one object or activity they could not live without. Losing their mobile phones would provoke a number of symptoms of distress among survey respondents, Intersperience found. These include feelings of agitation, panic and tearfulness.

The survey was conducted as part of Intersperience’s “Internet on the Move” project, a series of research studies of the impact of digital society on UK consumers. The project involves surveying and analyzing mobile usage and behavior of 1,400 mobile users, including 400 between the ages of 12 and 18.

“Three key themes emerged from our research – an increasingly high emotional dependence on mobile internet; the pervasive presence of mobile internet across all aspects of life; and the impact of the communications boom on young teenagers,” Hudson continued.

“Most people regard 18-25 year-olds as ‘Digital Natives’ but we found that 12-18 year-olds are an even more ‘connected’ generation, with 61% of them social networking via mobile every day. As that generation grows up, Britain will be transformed into a nation of ‘connected consumers’.”

More UK adolescents and teenagers ages 12-18 (66%) own smartphones than do adults (58%). Both age groups have “strong emotional connections to their phones,” Intersperience has found. Losing their mobile phones would agitate more teenagers (60%) than adults (48%), the market research team discovered.

In addition, British parents are feeling more pressured to buy mobile phones for their children at an earlier age. Under-18s felt that parents should buy children their first mobile phones between 10-11. Parents think it should be 12-13.

Although the Intersperience research focused on the UK, it’s likely that US mobile users would report similar attitudes.

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