R U OK? survey reveals Aussie increasing screen time

A NEW national survey from R U OK? has revealed Australians spend an average of 46 hours of their weekly downtime looking at their TVs and digital devices, compared to an average of six hours engaging with family and friends.

The suicide prevention charity also revealed about half of Australians spend two hours or less of their weekly downtime connecting with the people who matter to them.

R U OK? Campaign Director Rebecca Lewis said the research has highlighted we’re more intimately acquainted with our devices than the highs and lows of our families’ and friends’ lives. 

“It’s a big wakeup call that we’re spending almost eight times the amount of hours looking at our screens compared to the time we spend engaging with the people who matter to us,” she said.

“We all need to shift that balance and invest some of our screen time into our relationships and the people around us.”

The survey also showed while Australians want to spend more quality time connecting with family and friends, distance (38%); being too tired or lacking energy (28%); being busy with other activities (20%); catching up on housework (19%); or long work hours (18%) are the main obstacles preventing it.

R U OK? Board Director and Executive Director of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Helen Christensen, said finding time in our busy schedules for relationships is critical.

“Connecting with people we care about is so important for maintaining good mental health. We know that strong and caring connections with friends and family provide a vital safety net to help people cope with the challenging moments in life.”

“Conversely, withdrawing from social engagement is often a sign of poor mental health and this is the time when loved ones need to stay connected, no matter how difficult it may be.”

In the lead up to its eighth R U OK?Day on September 8, R U OK? is urging all Australians to spend more time catching up with friends, chatting on the phone with family or visiting elderly relatives.

Ms Lewis said setting aside quality time for those we care about makes it easier to start a conversation if you sense they’re not doing so well.