How Do We Use Our Mobile Phones as a Nation?

The smartphone is a revolutionary invention, on a par with the initial invention of the telephone itself. It has forever altered the way we live our lives, giving us instantaneous access to information as well as a seamless way to communicate, no matter the distance and no matter the language barrier. Our phones are at once our communication centre, mobile entertainment, alarm clock, torch and more – but how many of us own one, and how do we use them?

Smartphone Ownership Across the Country

It will come as no surprise that smartphone ownership is at an all-time high in the UK – but what may be surprising is just how many people in the UK own one. According to data gleaned in 2020, around 84% of UK adults are believed to own a smart device – more than four in every five.

That number would be much higher, were it not for the heavy influence that age appears to have on smartphone ownership. Another study was carried out to find out how many people in the UK had access to the internet via their phones, which revealed that nearly half of all adults above the age of 65 did not have access to mobile internet. Conversely, less than 5% of all adults below the age of 54 had no access to mobile internet or a people finder app.

How Do We Use Our Phones?

Given that smartphone ownership near-ubiquitous amongst a vast majority of the UK’s population, the way in which we use our phones can tell us a lot about ourselves – and vice versa. Smartphones are a portal to knowledge, communication and entertainment, putting the world at our fingertips and our friends and family within a moment’s reach. A recent study found that we spend an average of four hours and 48 minutes actively engaging with our phones each day; but how exactly do we spend that time?

Reportedly, a third of that time is spent on social media platforms, whether engaging with friends and family directly on Messenger and WhatsApp or catching up on trends through Instagram and TikTok. Other forms of entertain such as mobile gaming also take up a significant span of our time each day, from UK bingo sites to popular apps like Words With Friends, or even new trends in the form of runaway success word puzzler Wordle.

Our Relationship with Data

Of course, all of these apps, platforms and sites require data in order to be accessible – with some apps costing more than others when it comes to information. The single biggest guzzler of internet data is the streaming of multimedia content, which smartphone users do on a daily basis across a number of apps. Streaming services like Netflix see hundreds of megabytes of data used to stream high-definition films straight to devices, while social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube trade in shorter-form videos at a higher quantity; video streaming costs around 500MB per hour on average.


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