09/04/2013 11:53 BST | Updated 03/06/2013 06:12 BST

Our Growing Dependence on the Internet at Home

According to recent research, broadband internet access at home boosts our wellbeing. The UK Broadband Impact Study 2013 revealed that for many the internet is a positive social force for communications, entertainment, shopping, learning, health, employment and access to public services (the joy of super fast tax disc application.)

This can only be a good thing, but as the internet usage continues to grow and with the drive to deliver super-fast broadband to all UK households by 2015, are we at risk of becoming too dependent on our home internet?

We recently surveyed nearly 11,000 UK consumers about how they used, felt about and chose their broadband internet service. Alongside the helpful but anticipated views on broadband priorities, service providers and deals, the study revealed that a staggering 79 per cent of us would rather part with our TV or mobile phone than give up our home broadband connection. Even allowing for the fact that today we can easily replicate the TV experience over the internet with such services as BBC iPlayer, 4oD and NetFlix, the discovery that we would happily hand over our beloved mobile phone before our internet came as a huge surprise.

It reveals the extent to which we are becoming increasingly dependent on the internet to keep us constantly connected to our world - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, a fifth (18 per cent) of respondents admitted they use the internet between midnight and 6 a.m. and over half (56 per cent) of young adults aged 18-24 said they spend more than six hours a day on the internet. Two thirds (65 per cent) of this age groups said the internet is a 'very important' part of their social life.

The results demonstrate the continuous level at which broadband internet is increasingly affecting our daily lives, but this growing dependence is coupled with a fairly agnostic approach to service providers. There is no particular brand loyalty, and though people plan to shop around for the best deal, they often lack the time to do so, even though around half (56 per cent) of respondents claimed they reviewed the choice of broadband provider at least once a year. Customers said that both quality and reliability was most important to them, with those planning to switch providers doing so because of download speeds.

In view of the trends uncovered by our survey this is hardly surprising - and it is something service providers ignore at their peril.

With broadband internet being a dominant part of most UK households, people should regularly review their broadband deals to make sure they are getting the best deal. Do not just sign up to the first good deal you see, do shop around and look for exclusive deals, but do use your existing connection to check what others are saying about the provider.

With the race to deliver super-fast broadband to 90 per cent of the UK households in 2015 there will be many more broadband options becoming available at various speeds and using varying technologies. Some broadband providers are rewarding loyalty, but it usually requires you the customer to chase them to get their latest deals. The time is now for consumers to start taking advantage of the deals and save money and with some of the deals it is very possible that your broadband may be a lot faster than it has been previously.