Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - Mobiles and tablets transforming the way we communicate - 23 January

The UK has among the highest proportion of internet usage on mobiles and tablets, research has shown.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 23 January

Mobiles and tablets transforming the way we communicate

By Kerra Maddern

The UK has among the highest proportion of internet usage on mobiles and tablets, research has shown.

The report, by telecoms watchdog Ofcom, compares the availability, take-up and use of services in 17 countries, including most of Western Europe, Russia, India, China and America.

France has the highest proportion of internet users committed to desktop computers – as opposed to laptops, tablets or mobiles. Some 51 per cent of French internet users most often use desktops to surf the web.

The UK has the highest number of residents accessing the internet through smartphones and tablets, at 16.4%. Ireland has the second highest proportion (11.5 per cent), and Poland the lowest (2.2 per cent).

But people in other nations, including Australia, spend longer online than those in the UK, where time spent on the internet on desktop computers is declining.

The report says the global embrace of new technology has resulted in reduced face-to-face communication and landline telephone calls with friends and family. The use of the postal system has declined in all countries examined.

People in the UK spend more than £1,000 per person on internet shopping, higher than the bill racked up by consumers in the other countries surveyed – France, Germany, Italy, the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Brazil, Russia, India and China.

James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research, said Britain had “one of the most advanced markets for communications products and services”.

“Increasingly, it’s mobile devices like smartphones and tablets that are driving this growing demand for data – and in the UK it seems to be social networking sites that are behind this in particular,” he said.

“We have a long history of catalogue shopping in the UK, and as many daily activities are increasingly carried out online, the internet has become the new destination for many shoppers.”


  • What device do you most often use to access the internet?
  • Why do you think that so many people in the UK access the internet through phones and tablets? What is the appeal of these devices?
  • Do you think that the way we use the internet has changed in recent years? If so, explain how.
  • If the internet was to be switched off tomorrow, what problems would this cause for you?

Related resources

Tips for communicating on the internet

  • A poster illustrating some good rules to follow when communicating with others on the Internet.

New technologies

  • Get pupils analysing adverts for new technologies with these images and activities.

Pros and Cons of mobile phones

  • Worksheets and activities exploring the pros and cons of new technologies and mobile phones.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

Concerns about the sustainability of large-scale fishing in the world’s oceans were today brought into sharp focus by news that even mackerel – previously thought of as having healthy quantities – are dropping in number.

Festivities, parades and fancy dress balls are marking the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second four-year term as president of the United States of America today.

Five men are expected to appear in court in India on Monday, accused of committing a fatal rape that has outraged the world’s largest democracy, sparking a national debate about the treatment of women.

The most celebrated cyclist of recent times on cusp of admitting he took performance-enhancing drugs

In the news archive index