Smartphone Addicts Set To Cause Christmas Friction

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Things could get tense in some households after a survey found that the majority of smartphone users are unlikely to get a real break from work over the festive period

Smartphones such the BlackBerry and iPhone are a great way to stay in touch, but a survey has warned users to regulate their usage over the Christmas break.

New research of 1,053 smartphone owners by the UK mobile phone price comparison website, www.rightmobilephone.co.uk, found that 77 percent of smartphone owners won’t get a proper break from work this Christmas.

Apparently, more than 3 in 4 people claim that their BlackBerry or iPhone handsets will prevent them from being able to relax completely. Of the 77 percent of respondents who said they will be checking their smartphones over the festive period, two thirds said they would do it on a daily basis.

It seems the most common reason for doing this is “dedication”, with 45 percent opting to keep their smartphone on them at all times in case something important crops up. However, 26 percent admitted that checking emails is a habit they cannot break, while 11 percent were honest enough to say they will be more concerned about impressing their boss in the hope of a New Year promotion or bonus.

And it seems that people’s smartphone addiction is going to cause some family arguments over the Christmas break. Just under half of respondents predicted that their obsessive smartphone checking will cause a row with family members, while 58 percent said they will be packing their phone charger before taking trips to see friends and relatives.

“I wasn’t surprised by the number of people who said they will be checking their smartphones this Christmas,” said Neil McHugh, co-founder of rightmobilephone.co.uk. “Checking emails is a hard habit to break, especially in the case of the BlackBerry when that flashing red light catches your eye!”

And in an effort to ease family strife, the website has come up with its top five tips for switching off this Christmas:

  1. Leave it at home – If you know that you aren’t going to be needed for anything, leave your smartphone at home when visiting family and friends. If you don’t have it on you, it won’t interfere with your plans.
  2. Switch it off – If only for an hour or two, switch your smartphone off to avoid arguments and to have a bit of time to totally relax.
  3. Out of office – Set up an auto-response to let people know you’re out of the office. If you don’t get back to them straight away, they won’t start chasing you.
  4. Make your absence known – Let colleagues and clients know what days you will not be working, so they are less likely to contact you during your leave.
  5. Silence is Golden – Switch your handset to silent, not vibrate or loud mode. If you get a call or an email, you won’t know and won’t be tempted to answer or read it. You might even find you forget that your BlackBerry exists…