Would it pain you to switch off your Internet-connected devices? Would you feel like you were missing out on everything? As highlighted in our APAC consumer trend prediction for 2014 Drawing the Digital Line, our need for constant connectivity and instant gratification is reaching dizzying heights – enough for consumers to want to take action. In reaction to changing consumer attitudes, one Australian organisation asked people to push past their FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and switch off…for a whole weekend.

A super connected world disconnected from life

According to Mintel research, the way that people connect and engage with media is changing, due to the high volume of device ownership. A high proportion of people are engaging with more than one device at a time – a behaviour becoming known as “second screening”, using their phone and tablet while also watching television.

This means that getting people, particularly the young demographics, to focus on anything for a considerable amount of time is becoming increasingly difficult.

The constant availability of information and entertainment has reduced the attention spans of consumers, and brands are appealing to this by providing fun, bite-sized nuggets of information or interaction.

In Australia, the 2013 Mission Australia Youth Survey found that 73% of teens turn to the Internet as their main source of information. Furthermore the number one reason for teens (13-19) in China using the Internet is for chatting online (64%), according to Mintel data.

Some brands are capitalising on this need for constant connectivity by making it easier to connect. In South Korea, film distributor CJ Entertainment put a wi-fi signal in a movie poster, encouraging people to congregate around the advertisement, and Emart’s Flying Store floats around shopping centres, emitting a wifi connection to people within range.

Venues and events frequented by young people more than any other demographic are tapping into this need for constant connection. Think quick service restaurants with free wifi and phone charging stations at music festivals are proof that the younger generations simply cannot be without their devices, ever.

So what?

Consumers spend less time than ever eating meals, and families eating meals together is becoming increasingly rare. In the UK, just 39 minutes is spent eating the main meals, with seven minutes for breakfast 12 for lunch and 19 for dinner. Almost half of people (45%) admit to multi-tasking while eating.

So are we too addicted to technology and is it having a negative impact on our lives? According to Bully Zero Australia Foundation, the answer is yes.

Oscar Yildiz, the founder of Bully Zero Australia Foundation, told the ABC one in three social media users in Australia is affected by cyber-bullying, most of them teenagers.

Australian clinical psychologist specialising in eating disorders and body image, Louise Adams, told The Sydney Morning Herald that social media is a competitive space for young people, especially women. “This is a generation who have grown up with social media and at the same time, eating disorder figures have doubled. We can’t point the finger squarely at social media, but it’s hard to ignore the enormous increase alongside its popularity,” Adams said.

And it’s not just kids who are addicted, adults check their phone messages up to 122 times a day, according to Yulitz.

“In fact, a recent study revealed that after 15 minutes the first thing we do when we wake up is checking our Facebook… and before we go to sleep we’re looking at our Twitter account and making sure there are no LinkedIn messages or email or text messages that we haven’t responded to,” he told the ABC.

According to Mintel data, 69% of people in the US say they need to switch off from technology and unwind. But while people know they should switch off, often they find it difficult to proactively do so, which is why events and locations that encourage them to do so can work so well.

Around the world, hotels are offering “digital detox” packages that give guests money off their stay if they surrender their digital devices when they check-in or provide them with old-fashioned forms of entertainment, such as physical books or board games.

In a bid to raise awareness and combat the issues associated with over-connectivity, this weekend the Bully Zero Australia Foundation launched the 48-hour Digital Detox Program, to recognise the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.

Could you switch off for an entire weekend?

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