We're spending increasing amounts of time online, and it’s affecting our personal and professional lives, according to a new study that found that millions of people in the UK have taken a ‘digital detox’.

When was the last time internet uses did a digital detox?
Image: Ofcom

Adults in the UK now spend an average of 25 hours online per week, up from nine hours in 2005. This figure increased to 29 hours for young people aged 16-24.

More than half (59%) say they are “hooked” on the devices they use to connect to the internet, while more than a third find it difficult to disconnect.

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The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom surveyed 2,025 adults and 500 teenagers for its annual Communications Market Report. The research revealed that 34% were so concerned about spending too much time online that they had opted to take a break from the internet in the past year.

The downsides of being on the internet for long periods included missing sleep or feeling tired the next day, spending less time with family or friends, and being late for work.

Reported negative effects of spending too much time online
Image: Ofcom

Some 60% of teenagers, the heaviest users of social networking and instant messaging, admitted to neglecting school work and a quarter had been late for school because of being online.

As a result of their digital downtime, 33% said they felt more productive, 27% found it liberating and a quarter enjoyed life more. Although 16% said they experienced a “fear of missing out”, known as FOMO, and 15% felt lost and 14% cut off.

How 'digital detoxers' found the experience
Image: Ofcom

"The internet has revolutionized our lives for the better. But our love affair with the web isn't always plain surfing, and many people admit to feeling hooked," said Jane Rumble, Ofcom's director of market intelligence.

"So millions of us are taking a fresh look at the role of technology in our lives, and going on a digital detox to get a better tech-life balance."