Largest Ever Social Study of Mobile Phone Usage

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The Mobile Life Report the biggest ever social study in the UK to examine how mobile phones have changed the way we live has been published by The Carphone Warehouse in association with The London School of Economics and Lord Philip Gould. Over 16 500 people were surveyed by polling organisation YouGov revealing some new insights into how we live our lives today.

The report is the first of a series of initiatives being launched by Mobile Life, a forum set up by The Carphone Warehouse to study how mobile phones change the way we live.

"We wanted to find out what impact the mobile phone has had on all aspects of our lives," said Charles Dunstone, chief executive officer, The Carphone Warehouse Group plc. "After all, who else is in the unique position of having such an independent and wide ranging view of the market in the UK and Europe.

"One of our four founding principles, which we believe is central to our continued success, is the ability to offer customers a better mobile life by anticipating and catering for their needs at every turn. We need to make sure we understand our customers and the way they live their lives, which is changing and evolving faster than ever. Establishing Mobile Life just seemed to make sense to us," continued Dunstone.

The Mobile Phone Overtakes TV as a Technology Icon

For young adults 18-24 years old, their mobile phone (26%) matters more to them than television (11%). Interestingly, among 18-24 year-old women, the proportion jumps to 32%, well ahead of television (11%). Men in this age group are not quite as attached to their phones as women, but 19% still name it as their most important technology product, well ahead of television.

Texting Revolution

Our 'talk ratio' is falling. On average people send 3.6 mobile text messages a day vs. making 2.8 voice calls a day. Among 18-24 year olds the texting revolution has had the biggest impact: for example, 51% of 18-24 year-olds send/receive at least six text messages a day - but only 15% have six or more mobile phone conversations a day. This trend also applies, though less dramatically, to the 25-29 year old mobile phone users.

Mobile Phones Used to Deter the Unwanted Advances of Men

In our parents' day, a book or newspaper prevented unwanted approaches in public. Today, 21% of respondents agreed that "I sometimes use my mobile phone in public situations to deter people from approaching me". This applies especially to women under 25, where the total reaches 55%.

Women More Susceptible to Mobile Crime

Approximately 1 in 10 people (9%) have had a mobile phone stolen. Young adults aged between 18 and 24 are most at risk, with 17% of women in this age group having had their phone stolen compared with 10% of men.

Citizen Journalism on the Increase

People were asked if they have ever used or considered using the camera or video on their mobile phone to record evidence of a crime, or to actually record a crime. Exactly half, 50%, said they would record evidence, and almost as many, 47%, would record a crime in progress. Additionally, more than a third, 36%, of people said they would use their mobiles to snap a celebrity or newsworthy event if the situation presented itself.

Switching off From Work

Mobile Life found that 41% of mobile phone-users think they are too much at the beck and call of their employer as a result of using their mobile phone for work. In addition, almost half of workers (47%) never, or hardly ever, turn their phone off. There is also widespread opposition to using a mobile phone on holiday for work-related calls. 57% consider it unreasonable to take a mobile phone on holiday to speak frequently to work colleagues.

Mobiles, Sex and Relationships

The research has shown that more than 1 in 4 people (21%) stop to nullify their mobile phones before sex. 1 in 7 (14%) switch their phones off, and 11% switch them to silent -25% in total. As the subject of sex and relationships is looked at in more depth, we can see an evolution of the way in which young adults interact. Over half of the 18-24 year old age group have sent or received a sexually explicit text (54%) and a quarter of this group has sent or received a sexually explicit picture or video (25%).

Mobile Life also investigated the dating game and found over half of all mobile phone-users aged 18-24 have either sent or received an invitation to a date by text (57%). In addition, over a fifth of the 18-24 year old category have sent or received a text to end a relationship. Exactly one quarter of all mobile phone-users think that sending a flirty text to someone is not a form of cheating.

In Mobile Life The Carphone Warehouse has identified six tribes or groups of mobile phone users. These are Generation Mobile, Phonatics, Practical Parents, Fingers & Thumbs, Smart Connecteds and Silver Cynics. Unique trends by these tribes are revealed in the report.

  • Generation Mobile are single, students or first jobbers, aged 18-24 and are one of the most style-conscious of the tribes.
  • Phonatics are single, employed, aged 18-34 and regard their mobile phone as their most important electronic possession.
  • Practical Parents are young, cost-conscious families aged 18-34 who choose their mobile on the basis of price, rather than style or function.
  • Smart Connecteds are affluent families and professionals aged 25-44 who use their mobile to organise their busy work and social lives.
  • Fingers & Thumbs are married, middle-aged or retired with children or grandchildren.
  • Silver Cynics are affluent, married with children and coming up to retirement.

The Mobile Life Report is the first of a number of Mobile Life initiatives. The Carphone Warehouse will publish two additional studies later this year, including a teen report and real-life experience study."

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