Forming part of its wide-ranging annual Communications Market Report, published Tuesday, Ofcom’s study into the mobile phone habits of UK citizens revealed that while 58 percent of handset owners texted on a daily basis in 2011, only 47 percent made a daily call from their device.
The average UK mobile phone user sent 50 texts a week last year, which is twice as many as four years earlier. Last year was also the first time in which making voice calls from a mobile showed a decline, with 1 percent fewer calls being made in 2011 than in the previous year.
Ofcom said in its report the change was largely down to the phone habits of those in the 16 to 24 age bracket, with 96 percent of those within that group contacting friends and family on a daily basis via texting, emailing, or messaging through social networking sites like Facebook. It was mainly the proliferation of smartphones that has enabled this transition, the report said.
The director of research at Ofcom, James Thickett, said of the findings: “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.”
He continued: “In their place, newer 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 study showed that 39 percent of UK adults now own a smartphone, a 12 percent increase on 2010.
While some may look at the figures and bemoan the decline of voice calls and the more direct and personal interaction they offer, fans of texting will suggest they actually communicate more often than they used to when voice calls were the main option.
We’ll know things are getting really bad when we see two people sitting opposite each other in a restaurant completely lost in texting their friends rather than speaking to each other across the table. Hang on, that’s already happening, isn’t it?