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Ofcom uncovers a nation addicted to smartphones

Brits are glued to their smartphones wherever they are - whether blogging on the bog, twittering in the cinema or yakking away at the dinner table, users are rewriting the rules of social intercourse, preferring to communicate with people they can't see rather than those right in front of them, research suggests.

Industry watchdog Ofcom reckons its latest study of phone use reveals the UK is rapidly becoming a nation of smartphone addicts. Over a quarter of adults (27 per cent) and almost half of teenagers under 18 (47 per cent) now own one of the pesky gadgets, Ofcom’s researchers reckon, with most having taken the plunge in the past year.

Some 81 per cent of smartphone users keep the thing switched on all of the time, even when they are in bed. Over half (51 per cent) of adults and two thirds (65 per cent) of teenagers say they have used their smartphone while socialising with others, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of adults and a third (34 per cent) of teenagers have used them during mealtimes and over a fifth (22 per cent) of adult and nearly half (47 per cent) of teenage smartphone users admitted using or answering their handset in the bathroom or toilet.

Teenagers are also more likely to use their smartphone in places they’ve been asked to switch their phone off such as the cinema or library – with 27 per cent admitting doing so, compared with 18 per cent of adults.

Teenagers also say they are ditching more traditional activities in favour of their smartphone, with 23 per cent claiming to watch less TV and 15 per cent admitting they read fewer books. Teenagers are also more likely to have paid for an app download (38 per cent) than adult owners, amongst whom just a quarter (25 per cent) had paid for an app. A third of teenagers have paid for at least one game, compared to 15 per cent of adults, according to Ofcom's reckoning.