04 August 2011
New Ofcom research reveals the extent to which the UK has become addicted to smartphones, with people confessing to using them everywhere from the dining table to the bathroom and bedroom.
Over a quarter of adults (27 per cent) and almost half of teenagers (47 per cent) now own a smartphone, according to Ofcom's latest Communications Market Report. Most (59 per cent) have acquired their smartphone, which includes devices such as iPhones, Blackberrys and Android phones, over the past year.
Users make significantly more calls and send more texts than regular mobile users (81 per cent of smartphone users make calls every day compared with 53 per cent of 'regular' users). Teenagers especially are ditching more traditional activities in favour of their smartphone, with 23 per cent claiming to watch less TV and 15 per cent admitting they read fewer books.
And when asked about the use of these devices, 37 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of teens admit they are 'highly addicted'.
The rapid growth in the use of smartphones - which offer internet access, email and a variety of internet-based applications - is changing the way many of us, particularly teenagers, act in social situations.
The vast majority of smartphone users (81 per cent) have their mobile switched on all of the time, even when they are in bed, with four in ten adults (38 per cent) and teens (40 per cent) admitting using their smartphone after it woke them.
Over half (51 per cent) of adults and two thirds (65 per cent) of teenagers say they have used their smartphone while socialising with others, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of adults and a third (34 per cent) of teenagers have used them during mealtimes and over a fifth (22 per cent) of adult and nearly half (47 per cent) of teenage smartphone users admitted using or answering their handset in the bathroom or toilet.
Teenagers are also more likely to use their smartphone in places they've been asked to switch their phone off such as the cinema or library - with 27 per cent admitting doing so, compared with 18 per cent of adults.
Ofcom's research found that the line between work and social time is also becoming increasingly blurred. Thirty per cent of smartphone users say they regularly take part in personal phone calls during working hours, compared with 23 per cent of regular mobile phone users. However, smartphone users are more likely to take part in work calls while on holiday or annual leave. Seventy per cent say they have ever done so, with a quarter (24 per cent) admitting to doing so regularly, compared with just 16 per cent of ordinary mobile phone users.
The research also looked at the popularity of applications, or 'apps', among smartphone users and found that just under half (47 per cent) of adult smartphone users have downloaded an app - with many people taking advantage of the availability of free apps.
Teenage smartphone owners are more likely to have paid for an app download (38 per cent) than adult owners, amongst whom just a quarter (25 per cent) had paid for an app.
Teenagers are most likely to part with their pocket money for games, with a third (32 per cent) having paid for at least one game. Music is the next most popular genre amongst teens with 22 per cent having paid for a music-based app.
Adults are also most likely to pay for games (15 per cent) and music (8 per cent) apps, with maps/ navigation following close behind (7 per cent).
Ofcom's report also looks at the changes which have transformed the communications market during the last decade. It found that:
Three important themes have also emerged over the decade:
Despite this growth in communications services and the increasing time we spend using them, average monthly household spend has increased by just 12.8 per cent in real terms, to £93.10 (£83.01 in 2000) and has fallen consistently year on year since 2005 (£106.50).
Despite this period of significant growth, the digital revolution continues to pass some people by. While nine out of ten adults (90 per cent) aged 35-44 have the internet at home, this falls to just a quarter (26 per cent) of over 75s.
And while virtually all (99 per cent) 25-34s own a mobile phone, only half (51 per cent) of over 75s own a mobile, with this age group more likely to have a landline (94 per cent) than 16-24s (67 per cent).
When asked what media would be missed the most, people aged over 75 are also far more likely to miss their TVs the most (65 per cent), followed by radio (15 per cent) and newspapers/magazines (8 per cent). The picture is very different for young adults aged 16-24 who would most miss their mobile phone (28 per cent), followed by the internet (26 per cent) and TV (23 per cent).
However, there is evidence that older age groups are catching up in the adoption of technology. For the first time, over half (55 per cent) of those aged 65-74 have access to the internet at home while over three quarters (77 per cent) now have a mobile.
By May 2011, around 500,000 households had adopted superfast broadband - with a headline speed of 30Mbit/s or higher - a fivefold increase from 2010. Fifty-seven per cent of households are now passed by superfast broadband, either through Virgin Media's cable service or BT's Infinity product.
Satisfaction with superfast broadband is high, with 80 per cent saying they are satisfied with the service (compared to 57 per cent satisfied with their previous broadband service), and a third (33 per cent) saying download speeds exceeded their expectations.
Almost two thirds of consumers (63 per cent) with superfast broadband say they are now more likely to download High Definition films/ TV programmes on the internet.
Ofcom has also today published separate Communications Market Reports for the UK's nations. The reports and data compare and measure take-up of communications services in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the English regions.
With the UK set to complete the digital TV switchover by the end of 2012, consumers across the country have been upgrading their TV services from analogue to digital. In England, 96 per cent of TV homes now receive digital TV, in Wales the figure stands at 99 per cent, in Scotland at 97 per cent and in Northern Ireland at 90 per cent (where there is a year to go until switchover).
However, take-up of broadband continues to vary between the nations, with just 61 per cent of Scottish homes having broadband access compared to 71 per cent in Wales and 75 per cent in Northern Ireland. The proportion of mobile-only households is also greater in Wales (19 per cent) and Scotland (17 per cent) than the UK as a whole (15 per cent).
Ofcom's Director of Research, James Thickett, said: "Ofcom's 2011 Communications Market Report shows the influence that communications technology now has on our daily lives, and on the way we behave and communicate with each other.
"Our research into the use of smartphones, in particular, reveals how quickly people become reliant on new technology, to the point of feeling 'addicted'."
The Communications Market Report website can be found here: www.ofcom.org.uk/cmr.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Smartphone users were asked to rate how addicted they are to their phones on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing completely addicted, and 1 not at all addicted. For analysis purposes, those who gave a rating of between 7 and 10 have been classified as highly addicted.