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Tablet computer users increase three-fold in 2013 according to Ofcom study

The Office of Communications (Ofcom), the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, published its Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report on Tuesday, which reveals that the use of tablet computers for Internet access more than trebled, up from 5% in 2012 to 17% in 2013.

According to the Ofcom research, which covers the use and attitudes of UK adults across the key platforms of the Internet, television, radio, games and mobile phones, the increase in tablet use has resulted in a 27% rise in the number of British people aged  65-74 accessing the Internet last year, reaching 42% compared to 33% in 2012. Overall Internet use by UK adults increased to 83% in 2013, up from 79% in 2012.

Most adults under 35 years old in the UK now use the Internet, the Ofcom study found, with web users aged 25-34 rising to 98% in 2013, from 92% in 2012. Those aged 45-54 using the Internet increased to 91%, up from 84% the year before.

Ofcom’s study also found that 16-24 year olds spend more than 24 hours per week online, while older people spend nearly 17 minutes surfing the web each week. Those aged over 65 spend much less time online weekly, at an estimated average of 9 hours 12 minutes.

The Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report indicates that most adult Internet users regularly undertake at least nine online activities quarterly. However the majority of over 65s use the Internet only do just two online activities regularly, with 77% browsing websites and 77% using e-mail. The older age group are also less likely to carry out various online activities, such as banking online, watching or downloading TV programmes or films and visiting social network sites or apps.

Internet users still prefer to use computers, laptops or netbooks to surf the web, with the use of tablet computers to access the Internet among adults has almost doubling to 30% in 2013, up from 16% in 2012. However, the Ofcom study showed that 59% of people now access the Internet through a mobile phone.

Increasing access to content through tablets and smartphones by adults, including older people, has seen a rise in these age groups playing games on all types of devices, up to 42% compared to 35% in 2012.

Ofcom’s report also shows that that while 48% of smartphone users had downloaded an app, two-thirds of the downloaded apps were not regularly used. Smartphone owners, on average, have 23 apps installed, but only use 10 on a regular basis. On average, 78% of people who recently downloaded apps said they used recommendations from friends and family to select apps, compared to 17% responding to social media advertising, 16% using in-app advertising and 11% going for media advertising.

Generational differences in preferences for types of media were also highlighted by the research, with 42% of adults saying they would miss watching TV; those aged 16-24 are more than three times more likely to choose their smartphone over TV; and 68% of people aged 65 and said they would most miss watching.

Younger Internet users  aged 16-24 were also found to be more informed than all adult users about security on social media and are more likely to have adjusted Facebook privacy settings. However younger Internet users are more likely to say they will provide personal information online to companies as long as they get what they want in return.

Mixed media use among adults has fallen, with those regularly watching DVDs, videos or Blu-ray discs down to 55% in 2013, compared to 63% the year before. Also, the amount of people who read newspapers and magazines dropped to 66% from 71% to between 2012 and 2013.

Social networking sites are being used more regularly, with 60% of people with an active social media site profile visiting these sites more than once a day last year, up from 50% in 2012.


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