Why don’t you ditch your smartphone and do some NUJ freelance training instead?

Times theatre critic Ann Treneman recently wrote about an Edinburgh Fringe show that encouraged the audience to use a smartphone while watching, and being told by an usher that “99.99999%” of people have one.

Actually, Ofcom research says the actual figure for smartphone usage in 2018 was 78% of Britons aged 15 and over, up just two percentage points on 2017 (see page 12 of narrative Online nation report). So there are 12 million adults in the UK who don’t use smartphones, including for several years me.

Leaving aside the financial cost, a smartphone soaks up a lot of time. Ofcom’s research finds the average user spends two hours 34 minutes a day online, mostly on apps, and checks their device every 12 minutes. Aren’t there better things to do with your life, such as taking an NUJ training course (see below)?

There is also a reasonable chance you will feel happier without a smartphone. For researchers from the universities of East Anglia, Auckland and Greenwich, a group of 24 volunteers gave up their devices when going on holidays. They generally found they became more immersed in where they went, after they had got over the anxiety of not checking social media and remembering how to read maps: “I feel quite liberated,” wrote one.

If you still have some holiday this summer, why not take a break from your nagging smartphone as well?

NUJ freelance training in October

In October I am running three day training courses for the National Union of Journalists on how to be a freelancer. Two of these will be in London, with First steps for freelancing, designed for new and recent converts to the freelance life, on Friday 11 October and Winning and negotiating freelance work on Friday 25 October.

I am also running a one-day version with material from both these courses for the NUJ’s Dublin Freelance branch at Buswells Hotel in the city on Monday 21 October.

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