Teenagers time out in the toilet

Texting is most common for the convenience

Sixteen and 17 year olds spend 43% longer on the loo every day than their elders, according to new research from the AA's Home Emergency Response service as part of its State of the Nation's Homes series of reports.*

But the findings reveal that more than half the time they spend there (58%) is 'wasted' on extracurricular activities such as texting, using social-networking sites or playing smartphone games.

Facebook and YouTube are popular pastimes

Teenagers spend far more time on the toilet playing games and using social media than they do for the primary purpose

Tom Stringer, head of AA Home Emergency Response

On average, 16 and 17 year olds spend 22 minutes and 29 seconds a day on the loo, compared to 15 minutes and 39 seconds for those aged 18 or over. However, 13 minutes and 7 seconds of this time is spent on supplementary toilet pastimes, and the research suggests that this is largely because the youngsters are increasingly using technology while in the toilet.

Sending or reading texts is the most popular peripheral pursuit for 16 and 17 year olds, with 55% of them claiming do this on the loo, compared to just 19% of those aged 18 or above. One third of them (32%) uses Facebook in the restroom, 25% use YouTube or other video websites, and 23% play games on their smartphones. A further one in 10 (9%) uses Twitter while in the lavatory.

Reading is still a popular additional toilet distraction for the younger age group, with 27% of 16 and 17 year olds claiming to read a book and 18% saying they read a magazine there. Eight per cent of this age group have taken to reading a Kindle on the loo, compared to an average of 4% for those aged 18 or over.

The AA's report says that over the course of a year 16 and 17 year olds 'waste' over 3 days and 7 hours on superfluous toilet time, compared to just 1 day and 2 hours for those aged 65 and over.

Time spent and 'wasted' on the loo by age

Age group Average time per day Amount of this time spent on supplementary activities**
16–17 22 min 29 s 13 min 7 s
18–24 14 min 58 s 7 min 8 s
25–34 17 min 14 s 8 min 49 s
35–44 16 min 24 s 7 min 7 s
45–54 16 min 36 s 7 min 9 s
55–64 12 min 53 s 6 min 15 s
65+ 15 min 52 s 4 min 20 s

Tom Stringer, head of the AA's Home Emergency Response service said: "It's clear that the supplementary pastimes people like to partake in on the loo are changing rapidly as new media and evermore portable technological devices become more widespread. According to our research teenagers spend far more time on the toilet playing games and using social media than they do for the primary purpose.

"The book is far from dead as the traditional toilet pastime, however – a much greater proportion of 16 and 17 year olds tend to read a book on the loo than adults do."

Popular peripheral pastimes on the loo

Activity Percentage aged 16–17 Percentage aged 18+
Texting 55% 19%
Facebook 32% 12%
Read a book 27% 16%
YouTube or other video sites 25% 3%
Play games on smartphone 23% 12%
Email 19% 11%
Read a magazine 18% 16%
Other social networking sites 14% 3%
Phone calls 9% 8%
Twitter 9% 4%
Read on a Kindle 8% 4%
Any extra activity 68% 44%

28 December 2012

* Research carried out for the AA Home Emergency Response service by ICM among a nationally representative sample of 2,045 people aged over 16.  Research was carried out between 24–25 October 2012.

** For example, reading, playing games, using social-networking sites.