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Millions trying ‘digital detox’ away from internet: study

London: Millions of people have tried to switch off from the internet in what has been termed as “digital detox” after feeling overloaded by the web, a new UK study said.

The research by UK media and telecom regulator Ofcom found 34 per cent of internet users have taken a period of up to a month away from the web.

“The relationship is not simple. There are many benefits of spending time online, but also people are beginning to reflect on just how much this takes up of their daily lives and taking steps to redress the balance,” said Jane Rumble, Ofcom director of market intelligence.

The survey found that more than a third of people had taken a “digital detox” at some point in the last year – suggesting about 15 million people in the UK have tried going offline – and 11 per cent had done so in the last week.

Ways of disconnecting varied with three in 10 saying they had gone on some form of digital detox holiday, with 16 per cent saying they had chosen a location with no internet access and 13 per cent that they had deliberately left their phone at home.

Almost one in 10 went further and visited a place without even a telephone line. Those who took a digital detox generally said it was a positive experience, with a third saying they were more productive and a quarter saying they enjoyed life more.

However, some found the experience disturbing, with 16 per cent saying the felt like they were missing out and 8 per cent saying they felt anxious. The report, which surveyed 2,050 adults and 500 teenagers,found that more than a third find it difficult to disconnect and almost half said they felt lost when they could not access the internet, rising to 59 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds.

Many of those surveyed were concerned about their obsession with the web.Four in 10 think they spend too much time online, and 41 per cent said they spent more time online than they intended.

Nearly one in three said they missed out on time with family or friends and 13 per cent said they were late for work as a result of their internet use.

The Ofcom research also looked at how far connectivity has spread in the UK.

By the end of 2015, 9.2 million fixed broadband connections were superfast and 4G accounted for almost half of all mobile subscriptions, it found.