Almost half of British middle-aged women ‘addicted’ to their phones

A piece published on the website of Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them), the political party of which I’m the chairman, in September 2018:

piece in today’s Times, emphases ours:

Children may have spent large portions of their summer holidays being told to spend less time on their smartphones and social media, but a new poll suggests that their parents [J4MB correction – mothers] could be just as bad.

About half of women in their thirties and forties said that they would be unable to delete their social media accounts, despite feeling jealous of friends and bad about themselves after viewing the filtered lives of others.

In a poll for Marie Claire magazine, almost a quarter of women in their thirties and one in five in their forties admitted to checking their phone every few minutes, or about 200 times a day.

Of the 600 women polled, more than two thirds of those in their thirties said that they felt they “needed” to check social media regularly.

One woman told researchers that she had set an alarm to wake her up in the night in order to check her phone, while another said that she would regularly look at hers over her baby’s head, the Daily Mail reports.

The poll found that more than two-thirds of the women in their thirties and half in their forties said they worried about how long they spent on their devices. Two in five women thought they might be “addicted” to their phone.

A third of women aged 41 to 50 said that using social media negatively affected their self-esteem. About a third of middle-aged women were concerned that what they posted online was not “good enough”, and more than half said they thought friends had a better life than them based on their social media accounts.

Facebook was cited by all women as the platform most likely to harm their self-esteem. Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, was voted as the second-most harmful.

The rise of social media and smartphone use may also be impacting the art of conversation among the middle-aged. The poll found that the women felt more comfortable sending texts or using the messaging app WhatsApp than speaking on the phone or face to face.

Last week, The Times reported that hospitals are treating almost twice as many girls for self-harm as they did 20 years ago, prompting warnings about the pressures that social media and school work are putting on young people.

Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner, [J4MB: A woman whose organization takes ZERO interest in MGM] said that parents need to “ask themselves some pretty searching questions” about smartphone use.

The number of hospital admissions for girls who self-harmed jumped from 7,327 in 1997 to 13,463 last year. The number treated for attempting an overdose rose from 249 in 1997 to 2,736 last year, according to NHS data published by ministers. Admissions of boys for self-harm stayed broadly constant, from 2,236 in 1997 to 2,332 last year. The number attempting an overdose rose from 152 in 1997 to 839 last year.

Ms Longfield said that schools ought to toughen up their mobile phone policies and show leadership to parents about social media and smartphones.

“When I read about kids spending three hours a night on social media, or staying up till the small hours chasing ‘likes’, I wonder where their parents are,” she said.

“It is an abdication of responsibility to give in to childish demands for more and more screen time because ‘everyone else’ is on it.

“Research I published this year, which explored social media use among eight to twelve-year-olds, showed children as young as eight yearning for celebrity lifestyles and accoutrements, chasing ‘likes’ and worrying about their appearance. Fast forward five years and many of them will be appearing in the self-harm statistics if we don’t do more to help.”

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