UK is a Smartphone Society
It's official. Smartphones are the number one internet device in the UK, where internet users spend twice as much time on their smartphones as they spend on their laptops or PCs on any given day. This is the official word from Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator.
Smartphones are powerful, portable, and flexible. They can easily be personalised to suit an individual's preferences. Your personal music, images, and app choices are all up to you.
Smartphone users can carry out online errands while they are sitting in a waiting room, a coffee shop, or on a lunch or coffee break at work. Not everyone has access to a computer at work and even if they do have, there is a lot more privacy on a smartphone and all your personal information you need is stored there.
Not only is the smartphone easy to use, two-thirds of the adult UK population now owns a smartphone. In the 16-24 age range, 90% own smartphones. It's all about speed. When 4G mobile telecoms technology emerged, the subscriptions to this fast service leapt dramatically. In 2014, 4G subscriptions jumped from 2.7 million to 23.6 million.
Part of this is due to the availability of 4G mobile telecoms services which has become available to nearly 90% of UK homes. This is expected to reach 98% by 2017. The other part of it is due to the increase in the number and types of apps that are available for everything from tracking your diet to finding nearby specialty shops to updating your calendar to handling your finances.
First generation (1G) mobile phones were analog phones. Second generation (2G) was digital phones. 3G phones appeared in 2003 and were considered fast mobile devices. Ofcom studied the importance of reliable, fast internet access and its mandate is to improve the coverage and quality of communications services across the UK.
Smartphones are the Hub of our Daily Lives
Smartphones are more than communication devices. They are the leading "camera" with more people using them to take photos than cameras. Don't forget selfies.
More than a third of adults check their phones within five minutes of waking up. This statistic is from 2014. It's likely a higher percent now. Another percentage that is increasing is the number of smartphones and tablets in the typical UK household. In 2011, it was 2%, in 2014, it was 54%, and it continues to increase.
The time that people spend online is also on the rise. They do this because of the benefits that they derive from being online. A huge benefit is that they are able to keep in closer contact with their friends and family members. Another benefit is their increasing ability to keep up with the news and current events.
Changes Caused by Smartphone Use
Smartphones are changing how people spend their time and live their lives. One of the big changes in the daily lives of people is that they are not watching as much TV as they used to. A large percentage watch short-form video clips on their smartphones instead of programmes on their TV.
It's more than watching different forms of video entertainment. People watch their favourite shows differently. People between the ages of 16 and 24 are more likely to watch their on-demand and catch up programmes on computers and smartphones rather than on a TV set.
Another big change is how we communicate. Not long ago, communication tended to be by telephone. Even though smartphones are telephones, there was a shift to SMS (Short Message Service) or texting. Now even that is on the decline even though there are still billions of messages being sent every year.
The most recent change in communication has been away from SMS toward internet-based communications such as social media, picture messaging, Twitter, and VoIP calls/video.
The ability to keep in touch with the wider world via a smartphone may explain why older people are turning to smartphones. It is easier to keep in touch with children and grandchildren who have moved away from home. Picture messaging and video calls make this a much more intimate form of communication than a phone call or a text message.
Smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular way of accessing the internet. Compared to just a few years ago, smart phone use has become the way that four year olds and 64 year olds are living their digital lives. They turn to their smartphone for everything they need from jokes to serious business.
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