LONDON (Reuters) - Britons spend almost half of their waking hours watching TV and using their mobiles or other communication devices but are paying less to do so, media watchdog Ofcom said on Wednesday.
When awake, the average person spends 45 percent of their time using media or some other communications gadget, research by Ofcom found.
The average Briton also uses more than one device at the same time, cramming in 8 hours and 48 minutes of media into just over seven hours during the day.
“For the first time we can see just how central media and communications are to our lives,” said Peter Phillips, Ofcom Partner, Strategy and Market Developments.
While usage is going up, prices are going down, according to Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report into Britain’s TV, radio, telecoms and internet industries.
Household monthly spending on communications services has fallen by 9.4 percent to 91.24 pounds over the last five years, mainly due to people opting for discounted bundles.
The research said the growing popularity of smartphones, particularly among those under 25, was increasing the use of communications and allowing people to do more at once.
The number of smartphone users has risen by 81 percent from 7.2 million users to 12.8 million in the year to May 2010, while the number surfing the internet on their mobiles rose from 9 million to 13.5 million in the last year.
Older consumers were also doing more, with more than half of those aged 55 having broadband at home, the fastest-growing age group.
Consumers now send four times as many texts per day than in 2004 and they spend almost a quarter of their time online on internet social networking sites. Facebook was by far the most popular mobile internet site, Ofcom said
Traditional media also remained popular, with the average person watching 3 hours and 45 minutes of TV per day. Nearly a quarter of people had bought an HD-ready TV in the last 12 months.
“Younger people have shown the biggest changes in how we use media — particularly using different media at the same time,” Phillips said.
“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.”
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison