Over a quarter of adults and half of all teens in UK own a smartphone

New Ofcom research has revealed the extent to which the UK has become addicted to smartphones, with people confessing to using them everywhere from the dining table to the bathroom and bedroom.

Over a quarter of adults (27%) and almost half of teenagers (47%) now own a smartphone, according to Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report. Most (59%) have acquired their smartphone, which includes devices such as iPhones, Blackberrys and Android phones, over the past year.

Users make significantly more calls and send more texts than regular mobile users (81% of smartphone users make calls every day compared with 53% of ‘regular’ users). In 2010, an average of five text messages per day were sent for every person in the UK. In total, 129 billion text messages were sent, up by 24% from 2009.

Over a quarter of people use their mobile phones for internet access. In the first three months of 2011, 28% of UK adults said they accessed the internet on their mobile, up from 22% in 2010. Nearly six in ten (57%) of mobile phone internet users visit social networking sites on their mobiles, making it the most popular activity ahead of sending and receiving emails (53%).

Teenagers especially are ditching more traditional activities in favour of their smartphone, with 23% claiming to watch less TV and 15% admitting they read fewer books.

And when asked about the use of these devices, 37% of adults and 60% of teens admit they are ‘highly addicted’.

The rapid growth in the use of smartphones – which offer internet access, email and a variety of internet-based applications – is changing the way many of us, particularly teenagers, act in social situations.

The vast majority of smartphone users (81%) have their mobile switched on all of the time, even when they are in bed, with four in ten adults (38%) and teens (40%) admitting using their smartphone after it woke them.

Over half (51%) of adults and two thirds (65%) of teenagers say they have used their smartphone while socialising with others, nearly a quarter (23%) of adults and a third (34%) of teenagers have used them during mealtimes and over a fifth (22%) of adult and nearly half (47%) of teenage smartphone users admitted using or answering their handset in the bathroom or toilet.

Teenagers are also more likely to use their smartphone in places they have been asked to switch their phone off such as the cinema or library – with 27% admitting doing so, compared with 18% of adults.

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