A total of 95 percent of Germans watch television regularly, or at least once a week. Two out of three follow a daily television program.
For the past 30 years, tuning into the telly has remained the top activity of Germans, according to an annual Freizeit-Monitor study published on Wednesday. It surveyed 2,000 Germans in July about how they spend their free time – and how they would actually like to spend it.
Yet the top activities varied per demographic: childless couples listed spending time with each other as the top activity. Young adults and singles listed the watching TV as their fifth most prized free time activity, a few spots below first place: using the internet.
More quantity, less quality
A total of eight different free time activities occur every day, according to the survey. Weekly, people engage in a total of 23 activities, compared to 12 in 1998. As a result, many activities occur simultaneously – for example, browsing the Internet whilst watching TV or eating dinner.
In contrast, real social contacts such as visits to grandparents or meetings with friends are falling by the wayside more and more frequently, according to the results of the study.
So called “leisure-time stress” is also on the rise in Germany due to a rise of options and less quality time devoted to each one, said Ulrich Reinhardt, scientific director of the study.
In addition, there is also a growing tendency to inform others about leisure experiences through social networks, said Reinhardt. But many Germans are not happy about the restlessness, wishing that that they had more time for themselves and others.
According to Reinhardt, an increase in activities not only leads to a decrease in the quality of friendships and activities, but also a decreasing sense of personal well-being.
A graph (“Media dominate our daily lives: the main free time activities of the Germans”) showing what Germans do at least once per week. watching TV, listening to radio, listening to music, talking on the phone at home and using the internet are the top activities.
Is free time actual free time?
The study also revealed that Germans are largely occupied with chores or additional work in their free time, though with a wide gap between genders.
This was especially pronounced in housework (94 percent of women versus 57 percent of men) at least once a week and shopping (89 percent of women versus 70 percent of men).
However, men were more likely to have telephone calls with work (21 percent versus 13 percent of women), do additional work for their jobs (15 percent versus 11 percent) or further their education (23 percent versus 17 percent).
Survey participants also expressed their desire to have time for more activities, with “spontaneously doing what you want” the number one wish (63 percent).
Participants also wished they had more time for sleeping in (61 percent), weekend trips staying overnight somewhere (55 percent), “doing nothing” (52 percent) and spending time with a partner (46 percent).
“The more complex, planned and transparent your life becomes, the more you feel the need for the simple things,” said Reinhardt. “As in childhood, one would like to have the freedom to follow one's own intuition – no matter whether it is the desire for meeting someone, a business venture or simply chilling.”