31% of Americans Have an Online Addiction

31% of Americans Have an Online Addiction

Still, many remain lax about device security and password hygiene
A man in bed on his phone

Over the past year, American families have learned to adapt to the abrupt technological changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, many are not adequately protecting themselves from the consequences of these shifts, and it may cost them.

In its latest set of findings, cybersecurity software company NortonLifeLock Inc. showed that nearly a third of U.S. consumers (31%) have now become addicted to their screens — and the time they spend on the internet could leave them vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Leisure screen time has gone up since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak

Two-thirds of Americans confessed to spending "way too much time" looking at screens, while over half (53%) said their screen time outside of work or school saw a significant increase during the health crisis — a number that came out to 6.3 hours a day on average.

Although 43% of respondents believe that the time they spend in front of a screen has helped them feel more connected to the outside world, others report less physical activity (38%) and a decline in their mental health (21%) as a result.

In fact, a recent survey from Reboot Foundation revealed that over half of social media users admitted their time on these platforms have at least somewhat exacerbated their feelings of anxiety, loneliness, depression and low self-esteem.

And as more young people spend more time online — 90% of respondents think that most children are addicted to their devices — a vast majority agree it's crucial for parents to instill a sense of cyber safety in their kids (84%) and having these conversations has never been more important than now (94%).

Americans maintain a reactive approach to device security

Of course, there are additional steps that families can take to ensure the safety of their children. However, NortonLifeLock noted that most Americans tend to take a reactive approach to cybersecurity.

Even though about half of respondents agree that it is very or extremely likely for a computer (56%) or smartphone (49%) to be hacked, 20% of users have not placed additional safety measures on their devices. The survey found that only about a third of device owners:

  • Deny permissions to apps on devices (35%)
  • Change the default passwords on devices (33%)
  • Regularly update device passwords (30%)
  • Install cybersecurity software to their devices (29%)

Another 17% of consumers would rather watch paint dry or file taxes instead of creating a unique password for every online account, according to a different survey from Onfido. The NortonLifeLock survey found similar issues with respondents' password hygiene as well.

In addition to the 63% of respondents who use personal information in their passwords, the report indicated that of those who own a Wi-Fi router:

  • Only 39% change their router password more than once a year
  • 29% have never changed the password or are not sure how often the password is changed

Indeed, 87% of device users wouldn't take action unless one of their connected devices was hacked, with 51% saying they would change the security settings or passwords on their device.

Methodology: On behalf of NortonLifeLock Inc., The Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 1,003 US adults (ages 18+) between May 20-June 8, 2021. Data was weighted when necessary by age, education, gender, household size, household income, marital status, region, race and ethnicity to align with the population.