We have now reached a point in time, about six years after the introduction of the very first iPhone, where ownership of smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices has become pretty much ubiquitous.
The average family now has ten devices capable of accessing the internet (including games consoles, eBook readers, MP3 players and laptops), and the majority of these are portable things that get taken out and about to allow communication and entertainment on the go.
While this is by no means surprising or even that interesting – we are all really quite used to living like this now – what is interesting is the way in which use of devices like these and the services we access with them is changing.
Here we take a look at the shift in how families now use their mobile devices in Britain:
–Talking to Each Other – Without Talking to Each Other
The same research that revealed how many devices the average household has, which was performed by a consultancy called Sparkler on behalf of Microsoft’s advertising division, revealed some interesting things about how these devices are used by families when they are actually all at home.
While in the past we may have used our phones to text the people waiting for us to get home for dinner to say we are going to be late, it seems that these days, mums are instant messaging their kids in their rooms upstairs to tell them dinner is ready!
The research Sparkler carried out revealed that a third of families admitted to using their mobile tech to talk to each other for things like this when in separate rooms of the same house.
This is an interesting shift, because in the past, when we had text limits or were charged for text messages, it would have seemed pretty wasteful to text someone in another room when you could just shout to them or (if you were feeling really motivated) walk upstairs and speak to them.
But now we have all sorts of forms of free communication it is no different from yelling ‘hey kids, your dinner’s ready!’ to simply ping them a message on Whatsapp or via the Apple messaging system.
While some still view this behaviour as a bit lazy, many are catching on to the fact that it is simple, free and effective!
Another shift Sparkler noticed is that people now use Facebook on their mobile devices to keep in touch with the people they live with, with 53% of UK brothers and sisters talking to each other on the social network, and 19% of families using Facebook to communicate while in the same house.
In the past Facebook was viewed more as a way to keep in contact with people you didn’t see all the time but now, as well as all the sharing and updating, the chat and video chat functionality makes it another way of instant messaging people, and this has led to people being on there more of the time, talking to people very close to them.
–Outside of the Home – Financial Shifts
Of course, while people are seemingly glued to their devices when they are in the home, one of the very purposes of things like tablets and smartphones is to be portable, and this means that more than ever before families are going off to work and school with some of the most valuable things they own stashed about their person.
Home contents insurance hasn’t really kept up, so many prudent British families are now investing in specific insurance for their portable devices from a gadget insurance specialist, for example Protect Your Bubble.
They are wise to do so too, because even though technology companies are making leaps and bounds in making their devices difficult for thieves to unlock and resell (especially when it comes to phones, tablets and laptops), theft is still a big problem in the UK.
Reports have shown that personal theft incidents (e.g. pick pocketing and mugging) for mobile phones has risen by a quarter in the last three years, and when devices are that important to a family’s daily running (as well as very expensive to replace), the cost of insurance is well worth it to them.
It will be interesting to see how the shape of the modern British family and the way they interact together changes as technology advances even further and things like smartphones become more affordable and available to children at an even younger age.
With greater integration between home devices and mobile ones too, there is likely to be a further trend towards interactions in the house being done through things like phones, tablets, and in future even things like Google Glass!