Screentime: Making Sense of the iWorld

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Twenty years ago we became subjects of a new world order. A world order in which we started spending more time looking at screens than spending in face to face interaction. Today, each one of us spends, on average, 10 hours and 19 minutes each day looking at digital devices.


When we asked Australians how they spend their time, we found that the top activities Australians do on a weekly basis are indoor activities. Watching television or movies at home (90%) and spending time on social media (78%) top the list.

When asked what Australians would like to be doing less of, we find that we have an aversion towards the things we find ourselves doing. One in five of us would like to decrease the amount of time we spend on social media or the internet, and one in eight of us would like to decrease our television or movie consumption time. 

Regardless of our age or other demographics, we have become the iGen, and a group of global citizens part of a new experiment. A global experiment of digital connectivity that has transformed us to be post-linear, post-structural and post-literate. 

  • Post-linear: We no longer see life in a clear sequence, but rather a series of events that somehow come together in a new order. We don’t go to university or TAFE and end up with a trade or profession, but are entrepreneurial to the core. We up-skill, re-train, re-skill – most of us having 15 jobs across 5 careers in a lifetime.
  • Post-structural: We are post-structural, not needing our life organised in 9-5 modes. We telework, work from home, work from the train, really, we work all the time. We are a truly switched on generation, with more than half of us (54%, among Gen Y workers), admitting that we are always on and never quite feel like we can shut off.
  • Post-literate: Technology has made us post-literate and changed our lexicon and language. New words have entered our vocabulary, whether it be the emoji 'face with tears of joy' or words that aren't words at all, like #hashtag.

Screentime: Who is in control and what happens next?

Our data shows that nearly nine in ten of us have become consumers of social media, rather than contributors. Just 12% are active, sharing our life and engaging with others across social media platforms. There is no doubt that our digital times are changing our communication, our behaviour, and our learning styles. Social media has become the show-reel of our lives, breeding isolation, distraction, and a lesser ability to focus. 

Yet global connection has allowed us to gain insight into areas we never thought possible. Most of the world is now connected with a smart device. Our phones have become our 'third brain', challenging us and expanding our worldviews. In the future, new mediums will enable us to connect with the information currently available to us behind screens, in a way that is truly a part of our normal daily routine and less behind glass.

This global experiment that we find ourselves in presents a new set of challenges for us to grapple with. We have to think about how we navigate this new reality with both our cerebral capacity to think but also the deeper eyes of our heart, responding intuitively to how screens are shaping us and changing us. What future do we envision for the next generation to come, Generation Alpha? 

More than anything, it is about learning quickly from our recent past. We have the ability to create a future for the next generations that we can be proud of by maximising the best technology has to offer while leaving the 'not-so-good' bits behind.   

About Eliane Miles

Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a data analyst she understands the power of big data to inform strategic direction. Managing research across multiple sectors and locations, she is well positioned to understand the megatrends transforming the workplace, household and consumer landscapes. Her expertise is in telling the story embedded in the data and communicating the insights in visual and practical ways.

From the key demographic transformations such as population growth to social trends such as changing household structures, to generational change and the impact of technology, Eliane delivers research based presentations dealing with the big global and national trends.

To have Eliane Miles present to your organisation on the screenage, Generation Z or the future world of work, please contact Kimberley Linco at or call 02 8824 3422



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