Digital media users spend more time online than asleep

As smartphones and wearables proliferate and we become an ever more connected society, is there a downside to being “always on”?

It’s important to get the balance right, according to a report released last week by the World Economic Forum titled Shaping the Future Implications of Digital Media for Society.

The research included more than 5,000 people from Brazil, China, Germany, South Africa and the United States, revealing that digital media users on average spend more hours online than they sleep.

In response to changing consumer behaviour and preferences, the media, entertainment and information (MEI) industries have undergone significant change, the report found.

But the majority of users are still not ready to pay for premium entertainment (34% said they would) or for exclusive or educational content (21%) and one-third of those surveyed said they use ad blockers and privacy controls to block trackers and cookies.

“MEI enterprises must continue to innovate to keep pace with the emerging media consumer who continually challenges industry business models and offerings,” said Sarita Nayyar, managing director of the World Economic Forum USA. “At the same time, we must begin planning for how our increased connection to digital media is and will continue to change the very fabric of our society.”

Half of the respondents in the survey believe that digital media use improves their quality of life and one in six cited its positive effect on maintaining relationships with friends. Yet over a third of people in Brazil and China believe they should reduce usage, alongside one-fifth to one-quarter of users in Germany and the United States.

“Clearly, it is important to understand the opportunities and risks in increased digital media usage so that industry, the public sector and users can learn how to best exploit the benefits while mitigating the negative effects,” the World Economic Forum said.

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