People in the UK are now more likely to text than to make a phone call, according to new research from Ofcom. While 58% of people communicated via texts on a daily basis in 2011, only 47% made a daily mobile call, said the country’s communications industry regulator. It said the shift away from traditional ways of keeping in touch was being led by young people aged 16-24. The new trends were revealed in its annual communications market report.
The average UK consumer now sends 50 texts per week while fewer calls are being made on both fixed and mobile phones. For the first time, there was a fall in the volume of mobile calls – by just over 1% – in 2011, while landline calls were down by 10%. Overall time spent on the phone fell by 5% in 2011. James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research, said: “Talking face to face or on the phone are no longer the most common ways for us to interact with each other.”
This shift is partly down to greater ownership of internet-connected devices. The data suggests:
- 39% of adults now own a smartphone, a 12% increase on 2010.
- 42% of these now say their smartphone is the most important device for accessing the internet, with 42% regularly using social networking sites and 51% using e-mail.
- The average consumer spends 90 minutes a week accessing social networking sites and email.
- Tablet ownership is also on the rise, with 11% owning such a device, up from 2% last year.
According to Ofcom, tablets are most often used in the home as a “snacking version” of the home PC. “People are using them to check the weather, train times or send a quick email,” said Mr Thickett. E-readers are also on the rise. 10% of people in the UK now own them, with 41% saying that they were reading more as a result. According to the report, 96% of 16 to 24-year-olds are using some form of text-based application on a daily basis to communicate with friends and family; with 90% using texts and 73% using social networking sites.