IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Multitasking Britons spend half their lives satisfying media craving

Ofcom's annual Communications Market Report reveals that we now spend 45 per cent of our day using digital media and technology, and are getting better at multitasking between them too.


The average Briton spends nearly half their day using digital media and communication tools, often juggling several at the same time, a new Ofcom study has revealed.

According to the telecoms watchdog, we spend an average of seven hours and five minutes every day consuming media or 45 per cent of our waking hours. That includes listening to radio, watching TV, surfing the web and communicating through smartphones and other digital devices.

However, the actually amount consumed is as much as nine hours and 32 minutes' worth, with more and more Britons juggling several different media at once to satisfy their needs.

Ofcom says around a fifth of our media time is now spent multitasking. Unsurprisingly it's the 16 to 24 age group that is leading the way, squeezing the same nine and a half hours of media into just six and a half hours every day.

However, the gap between the generations is narrowing, with the report revealing that the biggest rise in internet use was being seen among over 55s. For the first time more than half have broadband at home, and a third are sending and reading emails every day.

"Younger people have shown the biggest changes in how we use media particularly using different media at the same time," said Peter Phillips, Ofcom partner for strategy and market development.

"But the divide between younger and older people's use of technology is starting to narrow as more older people are getting online and finding that things like email are very important to them."

It's not just older generations that are seeing a shift in priorities, either, and in some cases the changes have been surprising. For instance, fully half of all adults surveyed said television would be the one thing they'd miss most if it was taken away from them an increase from 44 per cent five years ago. More predictably, the internet has nearly doubled as the most loved form of media, up from 8 to 15 per cent over the five years, while mobile phones are also up slightly to 11 per cent.

However, one form of traditional media that has suffered is the hi-fi, with just two per cent of us naming our Hi-Fi equipment or CD player as our most prized technological possession down from 13 per cent in 2005.

The rise of catch-up TV services and time-shifted viewing through digital video recorders has contributed greatly to television's stronger-than-ever status as Britain's favourite form of media. "Increasingly, mobile devices especially smartphones are used for multimedia, but live evening TV still remains the main entertainment event of the day," Phillips said.

In terms of communications, smartphone sales are the key driver of the mobile media consumption industry, with Ofcom revealing that the average user spends around six and a half hours on the social networking site Facebook a month far more than any other website.

But despite our increasing demand for media on the move, the good news is that for the fifth year running, we're spending less than ever satisfying it.

"Consumers are using communications services more phone calls, texting and the internet," Philips revealed. "Yet they are paying less despite getting more, partly through buying in bundles."

The Ofcom Communications Market Report 2010 involved a survey of more than 1,000 UK consumers aged 16 and upwards.

Featured Resources

Four strategies for building a hybrid workplace that works

All indications are that the future of work is hybrid, if it's not here already

Free webinar

The digital marketer’s guide to contextual insights and trends

How to use contextual intelligence to uncover new insights and inform strategies

Free Download

Ransomware and Microsoft 365 for business

What you need to know about reducing ransomware risk

Free Download

Building a modern strategy for analytics and machine learning success

Turning into business value

Free Download

Most Popular

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies
Server & storage

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies

12 May 2022
Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack

16 May 2022
IT admin deletes company’s databases and is jailed for seven years
Policy & legislation

IT admin deletes company’s databases and is jailed for seven years

16 May 2022