Study reveals UK visual tech habits

A recent study by Ofcom called “The communications market report” bubbles up a flurry of data  regarding UK’s usage of communication devices, whether TV, tablets, smartphones, laptops or desktop. Besides the obvious trend we see in all other developed nation – a sharp increase of mobile usage – the report also reveals some interesting usage habits, particularly in the visual tech space. We expose some of the most significant findings:

  • Despite its multiple uses, the smartphone remains primarily a communications device. Almost three-quarters (72%) of the time spent on a smartphone is on communications activities, including text messages, email, using social networks, instant messages and calls (voice or video).
  • While emailing is the most popular form of communications undertaken on a smartphone (81% of users), photo and video based forms of communication are used by some smartphone owners. Just over four in ten (42%) smartphone users send photos or videos via text, while 18% use their phone for video internet calls.
  • Newer online methods of communication are gaining significant levels of reach among online adults. Social media (62%), instant messaging (57%) and VoIP calls/video (34%) are used by many people as part of their communications repertoire with family and friends. Picture messaging services are used by a third of online adults (34%) and a quarter use Twitter (24%).
  • There are significant generational differences in the use of communications services. The biggest differences between the younger age groups and the older generation are in the use of instant messaging services (77% weekly use among 16- 24s compared to 28% among over-55s) and picture messaging services (39% weekly use among 16-24s compared to 8% among over-55s).
While photos are low on the scale, they are an exact match to usage of voice. source : Ofcom Research
While photos are low on the scale, they are an exact match to the usage of voice. source : Ofcom Research
  • In addition to having the highest reach, Facebook has the highest frequency of use. A fifth of Facebook users (19%) claim to go on the site more than ten times a day. Over 10% of Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp users also claim to use these sites more than ten times a day.
  • Snapchat was cited by 19% of website users aged 12-15 as ‘their most recent addition’. Instagram (12%) and Facebook (11%) were cited as recent additions for just over one in ten (12%).
  • 16-24-year-olds are more likely than those aged 65 and over to have digital photo collections and older adults are twice as likely to have photo albums. Those aged 16-24 are significantly more likely than those aged 65 and over to have digital photos or videos, stored either on a personal device (75% vs. 39%), in online storage (40% vs. 10%) or shared on photo-sharing sites (29% vs. 5%). In contrast, over-65s are significantly more likely to have framed photos on display (74% vs. 49%) and to have boxes or albums of printed photos (65% vs. 33%).
  • Young people are six times as likely as older people to mainly use a mobile phone to take photos. Seven in ten (70%) adults say they ‘ever’ use a use a mobile phone to take photos. This is the device most likely to be used to take photos; 60% of UK adults say they use it most often, followed by one in five (22%) who say they mainly use a digital camera. Eighty-nine percent of 16-24-year-olds mainly use a mobile phone, compared to 22% of over-55s.
  • More than a third of 16-24-year-olds take more than ten photos each week and 8% take more than 50. Just over half (53%) of adults take between one and ten photos each week, with almost one in five taking more than this (19%). Younger adults are more likely than older adults to take more photographs each week: 34% of those aged 16-24 say they take more than ten photos each week, with 8% claiming to take more than 50.
  • Nearly a third of UK adults ever take ‘selfies’. Friends and family are the most popular subjects for photographs, with 83% of UK adults ever taking these kinds of photos and 34% taking them either daily or weekly. Nearly a third (31%) of UK adults ever take ‘selfies’ while over a third (36%) take photos of their pets.
Both Instagram and Snapchat show a elevated level of usage frenquency during a typical day. Source : Ofcom research
Both Instagram and Snapchat show an elevated level of usage frequency during a typical day. Source: Ofcom research
  • Over three-fifths of younger adults often use social media to share photos, compared to just over a third of older adults. More than two in five adults (44%) agree that ‘I often use social media to share photos with friends and family’, and there are significant age differences; 62% of those aged 16-34 agree compared to only 34% of those aged 35 and older.

The full report – you can download it for free here–  offers a much wider picture of the how the UK uses their communication tools, covering TV watching habits, video streaming, 4G usage and more, with an emphasis on the generational gap we witness in other countries. While the overall UK population doesn’t seem as completely absorbed in the picture/video sharing craze  observed in the US, it does appear that the younger generation is quickly adopting the habits of its US counterpart.

Photo by Wiertz Sébastien

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo based companies with already two successful exits.

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