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TV, phones and web take up half our waking hours

'Media multitasking' is on the up, finds Ofcom

Two kids watching TV

Current rules don’t cover the programmes that are most popular with children

Watching TV, browsing the internet and using mobile and home phones occupy more than seven hours of a typical UK resident’s day, communications watchdog Ofcom has found.

Ofcom’s findings also suggest that we’re becoming a nation adept at multimedia multitasking, as many people use several devices at once – for example surfing the internet while watching TV. This accounts for more than a third of the time people spend on TV, web and phone use overall.  

This perhaps comes as no surprise given the increasing trend for multifunctional devices, such as smartphones that let you surf the internet, or TVs with an internet connection. 

Online TV is no longer restricted to the confines of a computer screen. Find out which big-screen TVs let you watch net TV in the Which? TV buyers guide

Watching TV most popular activity

According to Ofcom, watching TV is the activity that most adults would miss the most, showing traditional media activities remain strong in the face of newer technologies. 

Nearly a quarter of people say they’ve bought an HD-ready TV set in the last 12 months, but people are increasingly shunning a fixed TV schedule in favour of watching on-demand TV shows. 

Nearly a third of households with internet access watch online catch-up TV, and overall the proportion of people watching ‘time-shifted’ TV – where you can start watching a show at a time of your choosing rather than as dictated by the schedule – has more than tripled since 2006, from 1.5% to 5.9%. 

As well as using online catch-up TV, you can choose your own TV schedule with a personal video recorder (PVR). Take a look at our reviews to find a Which? Best Buy PVR from as little as £100

TV, phone and internet spending down

Phone, web and TV use may be up, but we’re spending less on it. Ofcom has found that UK consumer spending on communications services has decreased for the fifth year in a row. 

Much of the cost-cutting may be the result of more people choosing to buy their TV, broadband, home phone or mobile phone services as part of a discounted bundle. 

Ofcom says that half of all UK households now subscribe to a telecoms bundle including two or more services from one provider – an increase from 29% that bundled two services together in 2005. Most people’s reason for taking out a bundle was because it was cheaper.

If you think you’re paying too much for your phone, internet or TV services, switch. Which? research has shown that it’s easy and saves most people money. Find out more about bundling your phone, broadband and TV services together in the Which? guide to phone, internet and TV packages 

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