Social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter are increasingly driving Britain’s obsession with smartphones, a new study by Ofcom claims.
Research published by the media watchdog reveals that nearly half of Britain’s teenagers and more than a quarter of adults now own a smartphone, most of whom use it to access social networks and email.
The study, which surveyed 2,073 adults, aged 16 or over and 521 children between ages 12 to 15, found that almost 60 per cent of teenagers are “highly addicted” to their smartphones compared with 47 per cent of adults.
BlackBerry is still the favoured choice amongst teenagers, with 37 per cent owning a BlackBerry compared to 17 per cent choosing an iPhone. However, Apple’s handset is considerably more popular with adults between 25 and 54.
James Thickett, Ofcom's director of research, said: "Our research into the use of smartphones, in particular, reveals how quickly people become reliant on new technology – to the point of feeling addicted.
“As more and more people acquire smartphones, they are becoming an essential tool in peoples' social lives whether they are out with friends socialising or using Facebook on the move."
The report also found that this growing dependence on smartphones for socialising is also creating challenges to social etiquettes in real life.
37 per cent of teenagers admitted using smartphones during meals while 27 per cent have used it in cinemas, libraries and other places where phones are meant to be switched off.
"It can be very frustrating if the person you're talking to is constantly checking their smartphone. This blurring of the lines between work, online social networking and home is a tricky one,” said Ernest Doku of uSwitch.
"But this is about human behaviour, not technology. Making friends and family feel second best to a smartphone is simply unacceptable,” he added.