Nearly one in three Britons have taken out their frustrations over broadband problems on the people they live with, a new study has found.
According to new research, the average person spends about 4.7 hours a day using web-enabled devices.
Meanwhile, the average household of four was found to have eight web-enabled devices, with five of these getting used each day.
As a result, internet problems are increasingly becoming a catalyst for conflict in the home. Indeed, the study revealed more than 15.6 million people have become so annoyed by issues such as video buffering and slow loading web pages that they have taken it out on other members of the household.
Many arguments at home are also arising as a result of the amount of time people are spending on their devices, with this causing more rows than issues such as household bills, what to have for dinner and what to watch on TV.
Conflict over broadband problems is particularly common among households with children, with one in four getting into rows on the subject. Interestingly, rows over internet-related problems are more common among parents with children under the age of 11 (49 per cent) than they are for those with teenagers (44 per cent).
Since the average household of four racks up a total of 18 hours of internet usage every day, many mums and dads believe limiting this can prove an effective punishment for misbehaving children.
Some 31 per cent said they have confiscated tech from their child, while 24 per cent have banned internet access. By contrast, just 15 per cent have grounded their child, and only 13 per cent have stopped their pocket money.
Many households have also become so conscious of the role the internet plays in fuelling conflict at home that they are taking steps to try to prevent it from happening.
For instance, 21 per cent revealed broadband-related problems have prompted them to implement measures such as curfews on device usage, limiting how many episodes people can watch at once and even switching off their Wi-Fi router.
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, pointed out that while squabbles and arguments are “inevitable” in any household, the fact that so many are internet-related shows “how our lives have changed”.
“We’re increasingly reliant on the web and internet-connected devices – and as technology becomes more advanced and we see more connected devices in the home, this is only likely to snowball,” he commented.
However, Mr Taylor-Gibson pointed out that since more than 95 per cent of UK premises can now access superfast broadband services, there “shouldn’t be any cause for family members to clash over bandwidth”.
He therefore argued that consumers should be given “a better view” of the sort of internet services they can expect to receive at home.
“Providing property-specific speed estimates next to pricing is a no-brainer that would go a long way to ensuring consumers can see, at a glance, what service is best suited to their household’s needs,” Mr Taylor-Gibson said.
This comes shortly after the Local Government Association (LGA) called on housing developers to introduce a fibre-to-the-premises kitemark for new-build homes, so prospective buyers can know in advance if a cable is running to the property.
The LGA noted that while developers are obliged to connect water and electricity before a house is sold, they are not required to consider its broadband connectivity, even though a digital connection is widely seen as an “everyday essential alongside traditional utilities”.