Ofcom CMR Event

I attended the Ofcom Stakeholder event on 4 November at their flagship Edinburgh office, where they talked through the 2016 Communications Market Report. A number of keynote speakers provided context to the report, including a presentation from Evelyn MacDowall from the Wheatley Group, who highlighted the digital volunteering partnership between SQA and Wheatley Group, as well as showcasing the Digital Learning Guides that we have produced to help the Wheatley community janitors get online.

The focus of the day was the benefits vs the downside of being online; a lot of very interesting stats came out of the event and I wanted to share some of the more relevant ones with you.

• 9 out of 10 people in the UK go online every day
• 6 out of 10 people in the UK admit to being ‘hooked’ on their digital devices
• 25% of people text or use Instant Messaging instead of talking face to face to people in the same room
• 25% of people have bumped into someone due to walking while using a device

Some of the statistics were focused on the negatives of being online, for example:

• 50% of people have felt ignored or snubbed by others online
• 50% of people have admitted to neglecting housework, missing sleep or avoiding/ignoring friends in favour of being online

There has recently been a surge in people giving themselves a ‘digital detox’ – ie deliberately disconnecting or avoiding going online for a full day (or longer) to try and maintain a balance; in the UK, 33% of people who regularly go online trialled a digital detox for one day or longer; the number dropped slightly for Scotland (25%).

There are some popularity shifts too, with IM showing an surge in popularity and emails/texting showing a decrease. Paid-for services such as Netflix are increasing in popularity, but this seems to be due to archived rather than newly developed programmes; live TV has shown a decline in popularity.

The generation shifts are becoming evident too, with the majority of young people preferring to IM or use social media to communicate, and the 65+ age group preferring to email or phone, although interestingly this age group has shown an increased use of social media and IM in the last 12 months.

An increase in the use of portable devices may explain some of these changes; 7 in 10 adults now have a smart phone; 6 in 10 adults now have a tablet and 25% of households now own at least one smart TV. As a result there is a significant decrease in the use of desktop or laptop computers.

Ofcom are carrying out a crowdsourced research project to better understand how mobile networks perform across the UK, and how people use their mobile data services. Anyone with an Android mobile phone can participate; more information and a link to the app can be found here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/coverage/ofcom-mobile-research-app

It was an interesting day with plenty of challenging questions, but the key messages had a digital focus and emphasised the need for continued monitoring of people’s online digital footprints to allow intelligence gathering and intellectual responses to the ever-shifting needs.

The full report can be accessed here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/cmr/cmr16

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