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UK Insights

Have we reached ‘peak smartphone’?

Kirsty Cooke

Head of Digital Content, UK

Mobile 20.11.2017 / 16:00


Young people are finally using their phones less, according to Kantar research. What’s happened?

It’s the first thing we look at in the morning and it’s often with us in bed at night. Indeed, we may even play with it on the toilet. But for the first time, 16-24-year-olds in the UK are actually using their smartphones LESS than they were a year ago.

The Connected Life study from Kantar TNS found that young people spend an average of 3.8 hours on their phones each day – down from 3.9 last year. Furthermore, a third of respondents in this age category said they spent too long on their phones.


Key Numbers

  • 52% of 16-24-year-olds don't think they could live without social media

‘This year’s findings showed that while advances in technology aim to make consumers’ lives simpler and easier, people feel increasingly distracted and harassed by it,’ said Michael Nicholas, Global Lead: Connected Solutions at Kantar TNS. ‘Brands must understand the tensions their customers are facing, and treat their time as valuable. Our research shows that, for brands and products in many categories, 20% of touchpoints can deliver up to 80% of impact. Brands who identify their 20% avoid bombarding and frustrating their customers, while ensuring their investment is focused effectively.’

Meanwhile, a growth in smartphone usage has been noted amongst those aged 55-65, globally, who clock up 54 minutes each day (up from 36 last year).

The average use across all generations is 2.4 hours a day… so it seems young people, 94% of whom have a smartphone, aren’t exactly neglecting their digital existence. In fact, 40% of those in the 16-24 age bracket use multiple devices at the same time when they're online.

Goodbye games?

According to Kantar Worldpanel’s mobile usage survey, there is a shift in the way younger mobile phone users are utilising their mobile phone. Use of devices for reading, music and games has reduced in exchange for mobile wallets, fitness tracking and roaming. 5.9% fewer 16-24-year-olds are playing games on their mobiles (September 2017 compared to September 2016) while 7.1% MORE people in this age bracket recorded using their phones for NFC purchases and mobile wallets.

James Brown, Consumer Insight Director at Kantar Worldpanel, notes: ‘Younger mobile users aren’t simply listening to less music or reading fewer books; instead, the way in which they are engaging with entertainment and the devices they are choosing is evolving. For example, we have seen a decline in younger mobile users listening to music on their mobiles, but the purchasing of vinyl and streaming music through home virtual assistants is on the rise. Social networking has held steady, with 87.8% of 16-24-year-olds using their phones for this purpose (87% in 2016), so as new (or retro) technologies come onto the market the role of the mobile device for younger users will continue to change.’

The Kantar TNS research found that over half of 16-to-24 year-olds (52%) don't think they could live without social media and 84% use social media on a daily basis – up from 75% in 2015.

Source : Kantar TNS, Kantar Worldpanel

Editor's Notes

Kantar TNS is one of the world’s largest research agencies with experts in over 90 countries. With expertise in innovation, brand and communication, shopper activation and customer relationships they help clients identify, optimise and activate the moments that matter to drive growth for their business.

Connected Life is Kantar TNS’s annual study of digital behaviour, conducting quantitative interviews with 70,000 consumers across 56 countries and over 100 qualitative interviews across 12 countries. Fieldwork was conducted from May – August 2017. Study content includes: media consumption, device infrastructure, digital activities, purchase (online and offline), respondent profiles, brand engagement touchpoints, drivers of eCommerce, deep dive into social networks, and attitudes to brands and technology. 

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