British citizens enjoy a generous 5.6 weeks of legally protected paid vacation every year, but they're no longer using their time to kick back with a stack of sandy best-sellers on the beach. Instead, they're glued to smartphone, tablets, and computers to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media and news sites, according to a new survey by luxury holidays specialist Cox & Kings. "Getting away from it all" has morphed into "taking it all with you."
Cox & Kings's survey of British vacationers showed that 73% of them use "some sort" of tech while on vacation. Only 6% of those use their devices to perform work-related tasks like office email or checking in with coworkers (perhaps heralding the end of our obsession with the Crackberry). Instead, they're using their devices for leisure: Over 30% of those surveyed used Facebook and Twitter while on vacation. This last bit is gender-skewed too, with more women using social media of some sort and men preferring to read news online.
About 30% of men don't use tech on holiday, compared to 26% of women—turning the idea of the distracted husband who can't put down his phone at dinner on its head. Vacationers under 35, not surprisingly, are the most tech-addicted, with 78% using technology to relax. Turns out Grandmpa and Grandpa are the last ones still holding firm to fat paperbacks with titles like The Omega Murders and the author's name in huge, gold-foiled fonts: About half of vacationers over 55 keep their vacation time tech-free.
If the Brits are models for how the tech-using public as a whole behaves, it means as younger, tech-happy folk age, they'll skew these statistics prominently toward leisure-related tech consumption while away on vacation. The iPod, smartphone, and tablet will be more ubiquitous than a dog-eared copy of a Sidney Sheldon or Daniel Steele novel. And instead of disconnecting from the world totally, we'll be tweeting our exploits and sharing pics of our big Limbo win on Facebook as soon as it happens. Trends like these his may also explain, in part, why Amazon is keen to get a full-featured tablet out there. The retailer's core business was books. But the rise of e-books and the Kindle have changed that, and in parallel the rise of social networking and other interactive uses of mobile tech is going to cause reading habits to evolve even further. With an Amazon tablet you'll be able to read a book, plus check your email and natter with your best friend via Facebook chat, all from that shady spot beneath a palm tree overlooking the ocean.
Kind of makes us yearn for the simpler days not so long ago when all you had to do on vacation was finish The Da Vinci Code...2003 seems so very long ago.
[Image: Flickr user scobleizer]