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Time spent online doubles in a decade fuelled by smartphones, tablets: Ofcom

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MUMBAI: Ofcom’s Media Use and Attitudes 2015 report, now in its tenth year, shows that Internet users aged 16 and above claimed to spend nearly 10 hours (9 hours and 54 minutes) online each week in 2005. By 2014 it had climbed to over 20 hours and 30 minutes.

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

2014 saw the biggest increase in time spent online in a decade, with Internet users spending over three and a half hours longer online each week than they did in 2013 (20 hours and 30 minutes in 2014, compared to 16 hours and 54 minutes in 2013).

Five years of tablet computing

Increasing take-up of tablets and smartphones is boosting time spent online. Apple’s iPad launched in the UK five years ago this month, alongside Android and other devices, helped to take tablets into the mainstream.

While just five per cent of adults reported using a tablet to go online in 2010, this increased to 39 per cent in 2014. Using a smartphone has more than doubled in five years, from 30 per cent of adults in 2010 to 66 per cent in 2014.

As a result, the amount of time people are online while ‘out and about’ - away from home, work or their place of study - has increased five-fold over the past ten years, from 30 minutes in 2005 to nearly two and a half hours (2 hours and 18 minutes) in 2014.

Overall, the proportion of adults using the Internet has risen by half - from six in ten in 2005 to almost nine in ten today.

Increased mobile and online entertainment

More people are watching TV and video on the Internet. Over a quarter (27 per cent) of Internet users regularly watch TV or films online, compared to one in ten in 2007. This rises to 39 per cent of 16-24 year olds, up from 21 per cent in 2007.

Watching video clips online has almost doubled over the past eight years, from 21 per cent to 39 per cent of Internet users.

The mobile phone is now the primary device used for gaming with over a quarter (26 per cent) of mobile users playing games at least once a week, compared to 17 per cent playing on games consoles. Fifteen per cent of adults now use a tablet for gaming.

The proportion of Internet users saying they regularly play games online has doubled from 10 per cent in 2005 to 22 per cent in 2014.

Surge in instant messaging on mobiles

Instant messaging has become a popular way of keeping in touch, driven by services including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and BBM.

Regular instant messaging on a mobile phone has leapt from 29 per cent of mobile phone users in 2013 to 42 per cent in 2014. Instant messaging across all devices has seen the biggest growth among 25-34 year olds, 80 per cent of Internet users in this age group are instant messaging at least once a week, up from 38 per cent in 2005.

Nearly all mobile phone users are sending text messages (90 per cent in 2014, compared to 70 per cent in 2005). People are also increasingly using their mobile phone to email (52 per cent regularly using their phone to email, compared to five per cent in 2005) or make a phone call over the Internet (VoIP) - 43 per cent in 2014, compared to 27 per cent in 2013.

Social media fans

The use of social media has tripled since 2007, when Ofcom first asked people about their social media habits. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of Internet users aged 16 and above say they have a social media profile, compared to 22 per cent in 2007.

Some 81 per cent of social media users log into these websites or apps - including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Tumblr - at least once a day, up from 30 per cent in 2007.

Social media has seen the biggest growth among 35-44 year olds, with 80 per cent of Internet users in this age group now on social media, up from just 12 per cent in 2007.

2014 saw a dramatic surge in older people using social media, with nearly half (49 per cent) of 55-64 year olds who go online having a social media profile, up from one third (33 per cent) in 2013.

People still love their TV but mobiles are a must for young people

People are spending more time online but, when asked which device they would miss the most, 37 per cent of adults said they would miss their TV more than any other device.

The mobile phone came a close second with nearly one in three adults (32 per cent) saying it would be the device they would miss the most.

But for 16-24 year olds, the TV came a distant second to their mobile phone. Some 59 per cent of this age group said they would miss their mobile the most, compared to 17 per cent saying TV.

Less concern about being online

The proportion of Internet users aged 16 and above saying they are concerned about the Internet has fallen over the past 10 years, from around 70 per cent in 2005 to 51 per cent in 2014 - stable on 2013.

But Internet users are increasingly likely to agree they should be protected from inappropriate or offensive online content (60 per cent strongly agreed in 2014, compared to 51 per cent in 2013).

There was an increase in concerns about mobile ‘apps’ in 2014, with 28 per cent of app users reporting concerns compared with 20 per cent in 2013. This has been largely driven by issues around security, fraud or privacy, with 20 per cent of users saying they were concerned about these areas, up from 14 per cent in 2013.

The majority of Internet users (68 per cent) are happy to provide personal information online in the belief they will benefit in some way. But more people say they would never provide their credit or debit card details (21 per cent in 2014, compared to 13 per cent in 2013) or their mobile number (26 per cent in 2014, 17 per cent in 2013).

Public and civic activities

People are much more likely to go online for public or civic activities now than they were in 2005.

For example, in 2014 nearly eight in 10 Internet users (78 per cent) said they had gone online to find out about a public service, up from half (49 per cent) in 2005.

More Internet users say they have visited political or campaigning websites, up from 19 per cent in 2005 to 44 per cent in 2014.

Ofcom's Adults Media Use and Attitudes Report 2015 covers the use and attitudes of UK adults (aged 16 and above) across the Internet, TV, radio, games and mobile phones.

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