Almost a quarter of Scots are ‘hooked’ on social media

Almost a quarter of adults in Scotland are apparently ‘hooked’ on social media websites according to a new report by Ofcom, which also reveals smartphone use has overtaken other devices as the most popular means of accessing the internet.

Around 23 per cent of over-16s across the country have admitted to being addicted to using sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, despite more than half of those people agreeing with the statement that being online interrupts face-to-face conversations with friends and family.

Overall, over one in five adults (23 per cent) in Scotland indicated a rating of between 7 and 10 on a 10-point scale (where 1 equated to ‘I’m not at all hooked on social media’ up to 10, ‘I’m completely hooked on social media’).

In its tenth annual ‘Communications Market Report: Scotland’, Ofcom, the communications regulator, found that nearly four in ten people (37 per cent) now report smartphones as being the most important means of accessing the internet, ranking higher than tablet computers (27 per cent) and laptops (26 per cent), with desktop computers at eight per cent.

The findings are particularly compelling given that the report – which reflects TV/radio, telecoms and internet usage trends – indicates that within the space of just one year smartphones have replaced laptops as the most popular means of connecting to the web: in 2014, 45 per cent of people rated the laptop as most important compared to 21 per cent for the smartphone.

Within key demographic groups, the findings are even more demonstrative of a massive shift towards smartphone use with half of all internet users aged 16-34 (50 per cent) and more than four in ten (45 per cent) aged 35-54 saying a smartphone is the most important device for going online.

That is set against the fact that smartphone ownership in Scotland only increased slightly by one percentage point since 2014, with about six in ten adults owning one (63 per cent) compared to the UK average of 66 per cent, which supports the view that improving technology has dictated the change in behaviour rather than take-up levels.

Ofcom Scotland director Vicki Nash said: “Scotland is now a smartphone society. It’s the device of choice for accessing the internet.

“I think part of the attraction is you can be mobile with a smartphone. You can be mobile with a tablet or a laptop but smartphones are much more portable and you can do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it, wherever you want to do it.”

Other key findings for Scotland:

  • Take-up of 4G service among smartphone owners has risen by 25 per cent between 2014 and 2015 to reach 55 per cent, higher than the UK average of 45 per cent.
  • People in Scotland said they spent more time online in 2014 (an average of 19.9 hours a week) than in 2013 (16.5 hours a week).
  • Tablets have increased in popularity in the last year, with more than half of adults (52 per cent) now owning a tablet computer, up from 42 per cent last year.
  • Seventy-three per cent of premises in Scotland were able to receive superfast broadband services in May 2015. This was the lowest proportion among the UK nations; availability was highest in England at 84 per cent.
  • Ofcom’s consumer research found fewer people claiming to be watching traditional TV (i.e. at the time of broadcast) compared to the previous year in Scotland: seven per cent of respondents said they were doing this more, while 41 per cent said they were doing it less; a net change of -34 per cent.
  • The research also showed increases in non-traditional viewing among Scottish respondents. Net gains were +36 per cent watching non-subscription catch-up (e.g. iPlayer), +24 per cent watching content they had personally recorded and +15 per cent saying they used subscription on-demand services (e.g. Netflix).Ofcom carried out the face-to-face survey in January/February 2015 with 3,756 respondents aged 16+ in the UK, and 492 interviews conducted in Scotland