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Voice calls will be replaced by instant messaging, an Ofcom report suggests

Could die out with older generations
Thu Aug 07 2014, 11:54

VOICE CALLS will soon be a thing of a past as text messaging or instant messaging and social networking become the most prominent uses of communication, an Ofcom report has suggested.

Conducted to better understand people's technology literacy, Ofcom's report said that the upcoming generation of smartphone users in the UK, or the "millennium generation" - that is brats aged 12 to 15 - are "the most technology-savvy in the UK" and are thus "turning away from talking on the telephone".

According to the research, which studied nearly 2,000 adults and 800 children, just three percent of their communications time is spent making voice calls, while 94 percent is text based, such as instant messaging and social networking. This suggests that as these generations grow older and replace the adults, they will carry these habits with them, implying that voice calls will die out.

Ofcom said that the use of the rather impersonal growth of instant messaging amongst youngsters is a result of growing up in the digital age, with 12-15 year olds developing fundamentally different communication habits than older generations, even compared to the more advanced 16-24 age group.

The report also said that almost nine in ten, 88 percent, of 16-24s own a smartphone now, compared to 14 percent among those aged 65 and above.

"These young adults are glued to their smartphones for 3 hours 36 minutes each day, nearly three times the 1 hour 22 minute average across all adults," Ofcom said.

By contrast, the older generations still find it good to talk on the phone, with 20 percent of UK adults' communications time spent on the phone on average. While adults also embrace digital text-based communications, Ofcom said the traditional email is most popular and is used for 33 percent of their time spent communicating compared to just two percent among 12-15s.

Ofcom's research is part of its eleventh Communications Market Report, which measures confidence and knowledge of communications technology to calculate an individual's 'Digital Quotient' score, or "DQ", with the average UK adult scoring 100.

Interestingly, the study found that children as young as six-year-olds claim to have the same understanding of communications technology as 45-year-olds. Also, more than 60 percent of people aged 55 and over have a below average DQ score.

As for the average adult making use of technology communications on a daily basis, Ofcom said the average UK adult now spends more time using media or communications - 8 hours 41 minutes - than they do sleeping - 8 hours 21 minutes, the UK average.

This, it seems, is because six out of 10 workers admitted that they take their life into work and use company communications to email and text their friends and family. The study said that four out of ten workers said that they take work calls and mails during holiday time.

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