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Young smartphones - how to live with the Internet in your pocket

Nowadays teenagers don’t leave their smartphones. NASK National Rresearch Institute has conducted nationwide research among students of high schools. It shows that people actively use the Internet for over 4 hours a day on average. The smartphone is the most frequently used device for this purpose. Every sixth young person (15.7%) cannot imagine how to live without it.

4 hours and 12 minutes a day - this is the average time of using the Internet by Polish teenagers.  In the previous edition of the survey, the average was about 3 hours and 40 minutes. 27% of respondents declared using the Internet for two to four hours a day. Slightly lower percentage (22.9%) between four and six hours. As many as 12% estimates that they spend eight or more hours online every day.

Today, the question of how much time you are online gives a new meaning. Many of the young and also quite mature people are de facto online all the time because we have smartphones with us permanently connected to the network. We receive notifications from social media and emails, we can take phone at any time and use what the network offers" - explains Marcin Bochenek, Director of Information Society Development Department at NASK Nationa Research Institute.

Today, a smartphone replaces many different devices (radio, TV, telephone, desktop computer). When young people are asked what they use the Internet for, they most often say that they listen to music (65.4% of respondents), watch films and series (62.1%), contact with family and friends via instant messengers (61%), use social networking sites (59.4%).  A mobile phone (smartphone) is the first device mentioned as a tool for these activities – 93,9% of respondents indicate that they use smartphones using Internet - says Dr. Rafał Lange, Head of Social Research Department at NASK.

The young people feel that sometimes they use the Internet too much. The researchers asked about the symptoms of smartphone addiction. 56% of responders said that they should use my smartphone less. 44% answered that they are not addicted. It means that the majority of respondents who answered this question see that something is wrong.

The research also shows that the age of "Internet initiation" is decreasing. "Today's primary and secondary school students started using the Internet independently at the age of 6 and 10 months. Among post-gymnasium school students, the 'initiation' age is higher and amounts to approximately 8 years on average" - explains Dr. Rafał Lange. In a similar study conducted in 2016, the average age was about 9 years and 5 months.

The choice of what young people do on the Internet sometimes depends on gender. Boys more often than girls declare their participation in online games (63.8% of boys and 16.7% of girls). On the other hand, more girls (72%) declare that they use chat rooms and communicators to communicate with family and friends. Among boys, this answer was chosen by 50.6%.

Young people appreciate online freedom, access to various content and convenience of use. When asked what hopes are connected with Internet access, teenagers most often mention greater, free access to various resources (74%), increasing the offer of things that can be done online (57.6%). One-third of the respondents indicated that Internet job opportunities would be more popular. A not insignificant number also expressed hope for more radical changes, such as the disappearance of language and/or cultural barriers in communication between people (40.5%) and even the fact that thanks to technologies, in order to live at a satisfactory level, one will not have to work at all (15.3%).

As far as negative phenomena are concerned - cybercrime is in the first place – its growth is a fear for 66% of respondents. More than half of respondents are afraid that they will not be able to use Internet resources as freely as before due to additional charges for services (55.8%), as well as censorship applied by the state (43.3%) or companies (about 40%). Teenagers are also afraid of surveillance: by foreign countries (40%), the Polish government (37.9%), and companies (33.3%). The survey was conducted in 2018. The survey involved 1,173 students from 55 schools from all over Poland, including primary schools, secondary schools, high schools, technical schools.

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