People are spending twice as much time online compared to 10 years ago, fuelled by increasing use of tablets and smartphones, according to new Ofcom research.
Ofcom’s Media Use and Attitudes 2015 report, now in its tenth year, shows that internet users aged 16 and above(-1-) 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).
Increasing take-up of tablets and smartphones is boosting time spent online. Apple’s iPad launched in the UK five years ago this month(-2-), alongside Android and other devices, helped to take tablets into the mainstream. While just 5% of adults reported using a tablet to go online in 2010, this increased to 39% in 2014. Using a smartphone has more than doubled in five years, from 30% of adults in 2010 to 66% 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.
More people are watching TV and video on the internet. Over a quarter (27%) of internet users regularly(-3-) watch TV or films online, compared to one in ten in 2007. This rises to 39% of 16-24 year olds, up from 21% in 2007.
Watching video clips online has almost doubled over the past eight years, from 21% to 39% of internet users.
The mobile phone is now the primary device used for gaming with over a quarter (26%) of mobile users playing games at least once a week, compared to 17% 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% in 2005 to 22% in 2014.
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% of mobile phone users in 2013 to 42% in 2014. Instant messaging across all devices has seen the biggest growth among 25-34 year olds, 80% of internet users in this age group are instant messaging at least once a week, up from 38% in 2005.
Nearly all mobile phone users are sending text messages (90% in 2014, compared to 70% in 2005). People are also increasingly using their mobile phone to email (52% regularly using their phone to email, compared to 5% in 2005) or make a phone call over the internet (VoIP) – 43% in 2014, compared to 27% in 2013.
The use of social media has tripled since 2007, when Ofcom first asked people about their social media habits. Nearly three quarters (72%) of internet users aged 16 and above say they have a social media profile, compared to 22% in 2007. Some 81% 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% in 2007. Social media has seen the biggest growth among 35-44 year olds, with 80% of internet users in this age group now on social media, up from just 12% in 2007.
2014 saw a dramatic surge in older people using social media, with nearly half (49%) of 55-64 year olds who go online having a social media profile, up from one third (33%) in 2013.
People are spending more time online but, when asked which device they would miss the most, 37% 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%) 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% of this age group said they would miss their mobile the most, compared to 17% saying TV.
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% in 2005 to 51% in 2014 – stable on 2013. But internet users are increasingly likely to agree they should be protected from inappropriate or offensive online content (60% strongly agreed in 2014, compared to 51% in 2013). There was an increase in concerns about mobile ‘apps’ in 2014, with 28% of app users reporting concerns compared with 20% in 2013. This has been largely driven by issues around security, fraud or privacy, with 20% of users saying they were concerned about these areas, up from 14% in 2013.
The majority of internet users (68%) 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% in 2014, compared to 13% in 2013) or their mobile number (26% in 2014, 17% in 2013).
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%) said they had gone online to find out about a public service, up from half (49%) in 2005. More internet users say they have visited political or campaigning websites, up from 19% in 2005 to 44% 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.