Texting overtakes talking as most popular form of communication in UK


Sherna Noah
Wednesday 18 July 2012 09:39 BST

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Louise Thomas

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Text messaging is now the most popular form of daily communication between British adults, new figures show.

After years of increased use, the amount of time British adults spend speaking on a mobile phone has dropped for the first time.

But the average Briton now sends 200 texts a month, Ofcom's Communications Market Report found, more than double the figure of four years ago.

Text messaging has overtaken speaking on a mobile phone and face-to-face contact as the most-used method of daily communication between friends and family.

More than half (58%) of UK adults use text messages at least once a day to communicate with family and friends.

This is more than the figure for face-to-face contact (49%), speaking on a mobile phone (47%) and social networking (33%).

Despite the figures, British adults say that they would prefer to meet (67%) or speak on the phone (10%) than communicate by text (5%).

But the trend looks set to continue, with text messaging used by 90% of 16 to 24-year-olds to communicate at least once a day with friends and family, followed by social networking (74%), mobile phone calls (67%) and face-to-face contact (63%).

The time spent on a mobile phone is down for the first time, from 125 billion minutes in 2010 to 124 billion last year, while calls made on landlines continued to drop by 10%.

The report also found that British adults spent 3.3 hours a month social networking on a PC or laptop in 2011, up from 3.1 hours in 2010.

James Thickett, Ofcom's director of research, said: "Over the past year there have been some major shifts in the way we communicate with each other.

"By far the most popular means of communication on a day-to-day basis is by text messaging."

He added: "We have known for several years that the volume of calls on a landline has been falling.

"But for the first time ever we have seen the volume of calls on the mobile phone also declining."

He said this was partly due to the take up of smart phones - enabling people to communicate using social networking, instant messaging or email.

He said: "Texting is seen as a traditional means of communication these days but it is still continuing to grow."

Mr Thickett added: "Our research reveals that in just a few short years, new technology has fundamentally changed the way that we communicate.

"Talking face to face or on the phone are no longer the most common ways for us to interact with each other.

"In their place, new forms of communications are emerging which don't require us to talk to each other - especially among younger age groups.

"This trend is set to continue as technology advances and we move further into the digital age."

The report also found that:

:: 39% of UK adults own a smart phone, a 12% increase on 2010. The phones are changing people's shopping habits, encouraging online bargain hunting.

:: Ownership of tablet devices, such as Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab, has risen rapidly in the last year from 2% of UK households in the first quarter of 2011 to 11% in the first quarter of this year.

:: 10% of UK adults now have an e-reader, with 41% claiming to read more since buying the device. But 60% say that they read fewer paper books since owning the e-reader and 44% say that they doubt that they will buy many paper books any more.

:: Over a third (37%) of UK adults with home internet watch online catch-up TV.

:: Eight out of 10 people in the UK had access to the internet in the first quarter of 2012, with the largest increase among 65- to 74-year-olds, increasing by 9% to 64%. Average time online per month per internet user stood at 23-and-a-half hours in 2011.


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