SCROLLING ON THE TOILET: TWO-THIRDS OF PEOPLE SAY THEY DO IT!

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A recent survey by cybersecurity company NordVPN revealed that 65% of people today use a smartphone in the toilet. As many as 9,800 people surveyed from ten countries (an equivalent of 53%) showed that scrolling through social media on the toilet is by far the most popular activity.

 Spaniards lead in the smartphone usage on the toilet with 80%, followed by Poles (73%) and Americans (71%). At the end of the list among the surveyed countries are Australians (62%), Brits (59%) and Germans (55%).  Although it might sound bizarre, the majority of people globally admit that their time on the toilet is typically spent scrolling through social media (53%), reading or listening to the news (38%), and gaming (31%).

Among other activities, people also call or send  message  (29%), check work email or other tools, for example, Slack or Microsoft Teams (28%), and watch videos, movies, or television programs (26%). “Even before smartphones were used, people consumed media on the toilet. In this context, I often talk about the lens function of the smartphone. It concentrates and bundles many activities on a single device, which used to be carried out in specific places or in other contexts, such as dating, banking, shopping, gaming, navigating, planning trips, or learning languages,” says Clemens Stachl, a  behavioural researcher.

 Psychologist and internet addiction researcher Hans-Jürgen Rumpf sees tradition in today’s behaviour. “Even in the past, people read on the toilet. There is a study from twenty years ago, according to which at least a quarter of the population read books or comics on the toilet. This behavior was — and is — more common with men.”

 Fear of missing out?

As Hans-Jürgen Rumpf says, the “fear of missing out” phenomenon is fast spreading. “This obsessive worrying and anxiety can lead to intensive smartphone use and be the precursor to problematic and eventually addictive use,” he says. The rate of people at risk for this development and dependency is likely to be higher among toilet scrollers than among those who don’t take their cell phones to the toilet,” says Rumpf. All in all, he recommends using cell phones consciously and putting them away more often, especially when people are eating together, before they go to bed, and maybe even when they go to the toilet.

Cybersecurity refresher

Smartphones are evolving at a rate beyond belief, making many people stay connected even while on the loo. However, people are encouraged to remember the importance of their online safety, even while immersed in social media, conversations, games, or the news. 

Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN, shares key tips on protecting your phone on and off the john:

  • Keep apps and the phone’s operating system (OS) up to date. Don’t skip software updates.
  • Do your research. Never download unknown apps — read  about  them first.
  • Avoid unofficial app stores. They’re more likely to contain malware-ridden apps.
  • Avoid using unknown Wi-Fi. And always use a VPN when you do.
  • Be vigilant. Don’t click on suspicious links, don’t give out your number to strangers, and be wary of unknown numbers.
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