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Smartphones and tablets help double the time people spend online

Monday, May 11th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

The increasing use of tablets and smartphones is fuelling a hike in the amount of time people spend online, new Ofcom research has suggested.

People are spending twice as much time online compared to 10 years ago, the regulator’s Media Use and Attitudes 2015 report found.

The increasing take-up of tablets and smartphones is responsible for the boost in time spent online, according to the report.

The number of people using a smartphone to access the internet has more than doubled in five years, rising from 30% of adults in 2010 to 66% in 2014. The percentage of adults who used a tablet to go online rose from 5% in 2010 to 39% in 2014.

These increases saw the amount of time people are online while ‘out and about’ – away from home, work or their place of study – rise five-fold over the past 10 years, from 30 minutes in 2005 to 2 hours 18 minutes in 2014.

Ofcom's report, which gathered data from interviews with 1,890 adults aged 16 and over, found the proportion of adults using the internet has risen by half – from six in 10 in 2005 to almost nine in 10 today.

The report, now in its tenth year, covers the use of and attitudes towards the internet, TV, radio, games and mobile phones of UK adults aged 16 and above.

The report also looked at the popularity of instant messaging by mobile users, revealing the growth of services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for keeping in touch.

Regular instant messaging on a mobile phone has risen from 29% of mobile phone users in 2013, to 42% in 2014, Ofcom found.

Time online doubled

Instant messaging across all devices has seen the biggest growth among 25-34 year olds, with 80% of internet users in this age group instant messaging at least once a week, compared to 38% in 2005.

Nearly all mobile phone users are sending text messages (90% in 2014, compared to 70% in 2005), and people are increasingly using their mobile phone to email (52% regularly using their phone to email, compared to 5% in 2005). The number who make a phone call over the internet (VoIP) has risen from 43% in 2014, compared to 27% in 2013.

The report found that people are spending twice as much time online compared to a decade ago.

Internet users aged 16 and above claimed to spend 9 hours 54 minutes online each week in 2005, climbing to 20 hours 30 minutes by 2014.

The biggest increase is cited among 16-24 year olds, almost tripling from 10 hours 24 minutes each week in 2005, to 27 hours 36 minutes by the end of 2014.

2014 saw the biggest increase in time spent online, with internet users spending more than three-and-half hours longer online each week than they did in 2013 – 20 hours 30 minutes in 2014, compared to 16 hours 54 minutes in 2013.

The report found that more people are watching TV and video over the internet, with 27% of internet users regularly watching TV or films online, compared to 10% in 2007.

Asked which device they would miss the most, 37% of adults said they would miss their TV more than any other device, followed closely by 32% saying their mobile.

On the subject of concern about the internet, the proportion of internet users aged 16 and above who said they were concerned about the internet fell from around 70% in 2005 to 51% in 2014.

There was an increase in concerns about mobile ‘apps’ in 2014, with 28% of app users reporting concerns compared to 20% in 2013.

This was largely driven by issues around security, fraud or privacy, with 20% of users saying they were concerned about these areas, up from 14% in 2013.

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