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Our mobiles are overtaking the TV as the device we need the most

Thursday, April 21st 2016 by Ellen Branagh

The mobile phone has overtaken the TV as the ‘most-missed’ media device among adults, beating the TV, according to a new Ofcom report.

The telecoms regulator’s Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes found that mobile phones have become the 'most-missed' media device.

From 2005 to 2014 adults were most likely to say they would miss their TV set the most, but the report – which focuses on research that was carried out in autumn 2015 – found that the mobile phone is now the device adults would miss the most.

In 2014, 37% of adults said they were most most likely to miss their television, dropping to 30% the following year. In contrast, those who said they would miss their mobile phone rose from 32% to 38%.

But this is not consistent among all age groups, Ofcom said, with over-55s still naming their TV set as the device they would miss the most.

The regulator’s report looks at media use, attitudes and understanding among UK adults aged 16 and over and covers TV, radio, mobile, games and the internet.

It found there was a considerable increase in the proportion of adults who only use devices other than a PC or laptop – such as smartphones and tablets – to go online, suggesting these mobile devices aren’t just supplementing computers, but are starting to replace them.

The report found that adults were more likely than in 2014 to use a device other than a computer to go online, with a considerable rise – from 6% in 2014 to 16% in 2015 – in the proportion of adults who only use smartphones or tablets to go online.

While mobile phone use has stayed relatively stable since 2010, smartphone use has risen since 2014, Ofcom’s data revealed.


Nine in ten adults (90%) use a mobile phone, unchanged since 2010 (91%), but there has been a four percentage point rise in the proportion of adults who use a smartphone – now up to 70%.

For five out of nine online activities, smartphones are the preferred device.

When it comes to social media, the smartphone is the device people tend to use, Ofcom found, and internet users were more likely to say they use a smartphone for social media, streaming music, watching video clips, looking at news websites or apps, and surfing or browsing online.

But for buying things online, watching TV programmes or films online on broadcasters’ services, and completing government process, they were more likely to use a laptop or netbook, it found.

Last year, Ofcom research showed that the tablet had become a 'must-have device' in the five years since Apple launched the iPad in the UK in 2010, with more than half of UK households owning one.

The research, released by Ofcom in May 2015 showed that the percentage of UK households who owned a tablet had risen from 2% in 2011 to 54% now.

The regulator predicted that the trend would continue, with 21% of households without a tablet at the time saying they were likely to get one within 12 months.

Seven in 10 children (71%) aged 5 to 15 had access to a tablet at home by the end of 2014, the research found, up from just over half (51%) in 2013, and the number of children in this age group with their own device had risen from 19% in 2013 to 34%.

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