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Examining the Impact Of Consumer Technology in Northern Ireland – OFCOM Report 2016


The impact of technology on how we socialise and the huge growth in smartphones usage, are just two of the issues examined in the latest annual Communications Market Report for Northern Ireland by OFCOM. The 2016 report provides a spotlight on how people across the region are using the internet and new technology, whilst also offering a fascinating glimpse into how it’s affecting people’s lives.

Coping In a Connected Society

While the availability of technology, online services and apps is seen as a net benefit for people’s lives, it also brings drawbacks on how we interact and socialise with others. The OFCOM reports points to the impact that using connected devices, such as smartphones, has on face-to-face conversations, interaction and social etiquette in Northern Ireland:

  • Two-thirds of people have felt ignored because they were with someone who was using a device.
  • 60% of people here have had someone bump into them because the other person was engrossed in their phone.
  • The main losers in the battle for attention is sleeping and housework.



The growth of flexible working has also impacted people in Northern Ireland more than the UK as a whole., with a fifth feeling they are ‘always at work’ as a result of online connectivity.

As a film fanatic who feels very at home and relaxed in the cinema, one finding in particular really stood out for me. 21% thought it was acceptable to use a smartphone in the cinema. I wonder what Quentin Tarantino would say about that!


The Digital Day in Northern Ireland

Since 2014 adults across the UK have been using media and communications for a greater proportion of their daily lives than sleeping! Given the importance of media in modern lives here, it’s useful to take a closer look at how we use it:

  • Multi-tasking: adults squeeze in more media time via interacting with more than two media channels at one time such as instant messaging and watching TV.
  • Watching TV or films on a TV set is still a core part of people’s evening between 8 and 10pm and around 9/10 adults are doing this.


Close up of a man using mobile smart phone


Smartphone Usage and Mobile Internet

In recent years the growth and importance of mobile and smartphone access in society has been one of the dominant media stories. New forms of devices including tablets and smartphones are having a very significant impact on how people shop online and access news and services. According to the OFCOM report, the number of people here who use a mobile to access the internet is 69% with smartphone ownership now standing at 72%, up from 55% in 2014. And with the exception of internet users aged over-55, the smartphone was considered the most important device for accessing the internet across all demographics.

One of the major effects of increased smartphone ownership has been on social media. The rapid rise of the smartphone to become the key online device of choice, has created real changes in the way people use social media and also fuelled the rise of instant messaging apps including WhatsApp and SnapChat. Here’s a quick overview of why they play such an important part in the modern media mix:

WhatsApp: WhatsApp is one of the world’s dominant messaging apps that allows users to instant message others without paying for text messages. The service has more than 1 billion active monthly users across the globe.


SnapChat: Snapchat another instant messaging app based around photos and videos. One of the unique features of Snapchat is that the images on the messages disappear after a maximum of 10 seconds. The service now has 150 million daily active users.


Internet Usage and Online Content

The OFCOM Report also reported:

  • An 8% increase in fixed broadband take up compared to 2015.
  • 60% of NI households owning a laptop in 2016
  • 70% of consumers purchase goods online
  • 60% of NI adults use social networking sites.


If you want to read more about the OFCOM CRM Northern Ireland Report – here’s an online link: