REVEALED: 2020 Behind the Screens of the Nation’s Phones

REVEALED: 2020 Behind the Screens of the Nation’s Phones

Study finds mobile phones have helped to bring us closer together, whilst we have been apart

 10 December 2020: Today, Three UK has released a report which looks behind the screens of Britain’s phone use throughout 2020, highlighting how our connectivity habits have changed both in and out of lockdown. Despite a year where we’ve been cooped up indoors and kept apart, our phones have actually brought us closer together than ever before. In fact, the average Brit has been so keen to stay connected to others that they made 156 more calls, shared an extra 104 social posts and sent 364 more WhatsApp messages than they did in 2019.


The 2,000-person study found that, despite ever-changing lockdown regulations, our trusty phones have helped us cling on to a bit of normality. A quarter of Brits agreed that they have contacted friends and family more often this year, 4.7 million phones have been given to loved ones to help them stay connected and 36% admitted they have relied on their phone completely to maintain a social life during these trying times.


Over 55s were more likely to look for ways to connect virtually than any other age group due to having to self-isolate and quarantine. As such, Three’s research found their phones have brought them closer to loved ones in 2020, with almost half agreeing that their mobiles have seen more use this year than ever. A quarter also said it has helped to develop closer bonds with family who they would not have spoken to so much otherwise.


Despite lockdown or tier restrictions, many people’s social calendars remained hectic and quick catch ups easily became landmark events that required diary invites. Throughout the year, 10.9 million of us took part in at least one (but often several) virtual quizzes as we looked for ways to jazz up video calls with friends and family. Singles hankering for a romantic connection, or perhaps a harmless flirt, sent 88.2 million messages on dating apps every week. During the summer when restrictions were lighter, we got together in small groups and placed around nine million drinks orders at pubs and restaurants through our mobiles.


Honey Langcaster-James, psychologist, wellbeing expert and broadcaster, said: “The greatest thing about this research is that it shows how the nation has stood strong and creatively found ways to stay connected to our loved ones. No one could have predicted that our trusty phone would be at the crux of everything important to us, enabling us to remain socially engaged and feel secure in the knowledge that even though times may be hard, we are never truly alone. There is always someone out there, be it on social media, or on a helpline, or just by calling someone we care about: we just have to pick up the phone and reach out.”


The Three study also shed light on several revealing insights regarding the nation’s connectivity habits at home during 2020:


Having the kids stuck at home for much of 2020 has been challenging and over half of UK mums were happy to admit that they made things a little easier on themselves by using Google to search for answers to their children’s schoolwork. Dads, perhaps keen to keep up appearances, were more reticent with just two-fifths willing to say that they needed a helping hand getting to the answers.


After swapping offices for lounges, bedrooms or even a desk space under the stairs, a sheepish 3.2 million workers admitted to avoiding turning their camera on during video calls because they were still in their PJs – something that 36% of women were willing to put their hand up to compared to 25% of men.


Women were also shown to be more health conscious than men, with twice the number of women using their phones for exercise in a bid to keep fit while unable to go to the gym. Meanwhile, as home improvements skyrocketed during lockdown, one in six men were busy photographing and sharing their latest DIY endeavours on social media.


Aislinn O’Connor, Marketing Director at Three, said: “Our report truly reflects the mood of the nation this year and proves how now, more than ever, our mobiles are far more than just the ability to simply to make and receive calls and texts. They have been a lifeline for many and helped to keep our spirits high at times where we’ve needed it most. From the sheer number of video calls made and huge increase in messages sent – it’s safe to say the only thing not on lockdown has been our phones. They’ve been through a lot this year, it might be time for a new one!”


The research from Three comes at a time where many in the UK continue to self-isolate and shield from the COVID pandemic. With our phones being put to harder use than ever before this year, it’s time for a new one. Three is making this even easier by offering no upfront costs on selected phones this month. For the latest deals on Three or for more information, head in stores or visit


Read the full report here.


Notes to Editors

All media enquiries to be directed to Three’s Press Office at Pretty Green:  / 0207 490 3449


Notes to Editors

*Survey results gathered from nationally representative sample of 2,000 people conducted November 2020

Top 10 Connection Confessions in numbers:

  1. 47% of parents have googled answers to their kid’s homework
  2. 2 million people have avoided work video calls because they’re still in their pyjamas
  3. 2 million messages sent on dating apps every week
  4. 9 million Brits have taken part in at least one virtual quiz
  5. 7 million phones have been given to loved ones to stay connected
  6. 7 million selfies taken
  7. 1 in 4 admit to being hooked on TikTok videos
  8. 37% of Brits used their phones to count steps and use this time as a health kick
  9. 18 posts uploaded to social channels weekly
  10. 364 more messages sent on WhatsApp every week

Honey’s Top Five Connectivity tips:

  1. Make Connectivity Part of Your Daily Routine

Time spent connecting with others should be seen as an essential daily activity to ensure you’re getting much-needed social nourishment.

  1. Embrace Technologies & Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Give new apps and technologies a try. Group calling on Whatsapp or Zoom, for example, can be a great way to virtually connect with your family members or friends who may otherwise be miles apart. Don’t be afraid to try new things online, you may be so glad that you did.

  1. Multi-tasking while chatting is okay

It can be a good idea to call someone even if either of you are multi-tasking. Even if you are busy cooking, or playing an online game, just connecting over the phone whilst doing so can give you a sense that you’re still connected, even whilst getting on with jobs around the home

  1. Use your phone to boost your immune system

Psychological Studies have shown that believing you have a good social support system to call upon in times of need can actually boost your immune system and may also help you to recover quicker if you get sick.

  1. Look after your brain by staying connected

Your mobile phone is a gateway to other real-life human beings who you can connect and spend time with. A good social network is a source of support, and messaging or chatting to others may reduce stress, act as an anti-dote to depression and even keep your mind active through intellectual stimulation.

About Three

Three launched in 2003 as the UK’s first 3G only network, laying its foundations as the network that was born to be different. Today Three is a connectivity company that connects people to people, people to things and things to things and has more than 10 million customers.

An average Three customer uses 3.5 times more mobile data than the industry average and its network today covers 99% of the UK population. It has the highest Net Promoter Score (NPS) of any of the mobile network operators at +12, alongside +24 for its Employee NPS.

Three also has the UK’s leading 5G spectrum holdings with more than the rest of the industry combined. Three is the only operator able to meet the International Telecoms Union (ITU) 2020 standard for full 5G services. It launched its first 5G home broadband service last August and is committed to delivering 5G mobile services in early 2020.

Three was voted the Best Network for Data at the Mobile Choice Consumer Awards, as well as Best Network for Roaming by uSwitch, and the Best High Street Retailer at the Mobile Industry Awards.

Three UK is part of the CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd group of companies which has mobile operations in 11 countries. We employ more than 4,800 people across our offices in Maidenhead, Glasgow and Reading and our 326 retail stores.

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