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Time online doubles in a decade

News, 12 May 2015

LONDON: British consumers are spending twice as much time online as they were ten years ago because of the increased use of smartphones and tablets, according to new research from Ofcom.

The UK telecom regulator's Media Use and Attitudes Report 2015 revealed internet users aged 16 and above spent an average of 20 hours and 30 minutes online each week in 2014 compared with 9 hours and 54 minutes in 2005.

Younger users are driving the trend as the time spent online by 16-24 year-olds was found to have almost tripled to 27 hours and 36 minutes from 10 hours and 24 minutes a decade ago.

Mobile devices have fuelled this rise, resulting in the amount of time people spend online while "out and about" increasing five-fold over the past ten years, from 30 minutes in 2005 to 2 hours and 18 minutes in 2014.

Smartphone usage more than doubled in the last five years, from 30% of adults in 2010 to 66% in 2014, while the proportion of British adults using a tablet has risen from just 5% in 2010 to well over a third (39%) in 2014.

However, even though people are spending more time online, 37% of adults say they would miss their TV more than any other device, followed by their mobile (32%).

But for 16-24 year olds, the TV comes a distant second to their mobile phone. Some 59% of this age group would miss their mobile the most compared to TV (17%).

Not surprisingly, the use of social media has tripled since 2007, the year when Ofcom first started asking about the channel. Since then, the proportion of internet users aged 16 and above who have a social media profile has risen from 22% to 72%.

The most dramatic growth in social media usage has been among 35-44 year-olds with 80% of this age group now on social media compared with just 12% in 2007.

Furthermore, nearly half (49%) of 55-64 year-olds who go online now have a social media profile, up from 33% in 2013.

Also, with concerns about the internet declining to just over half (51%) of users, it appears that over two-thirds (68%) are now happy to provide personal information.

But it depends on what is asked because 21% say they would never provide credit or debit card details (versus 13% in 2013) and 26% would never give their mobile number.

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by Warc staff