Generation text

Last updated at 16:25 20 May 2004

The average Briton now spends a quarter of their waking time either on the phone or using e-mail, research shows.

Individuals are spending 225 minutes a day - only 15 minutes short of four hours - on the phone or sending messages on-line.

This is more time than they spend watching the television, according to a study.

However, the art of conversation is dying because so much of this extra communicating is done by text, e-mail or talking to voicemails.

According to the research by the telecommunications division of British Gas, the average Briton spends 88 minutes a day on a fixed landline phone.

A further 62 minutes is taken up on the mobile, 53 minutes e-mailing and 22 minutes texting.

Those with full-time jobs, a permanent partner and children will spend, on average, 25 minutes longer than the national average - a total of 250 minutes a day communicating.

Traditional conversations

But with so much of that now being done in the truncated language of e-mail or texting, it also means that traditional conversations are falling by the wayside, said British Gas.

The results of the poll of 1,000 adults showed that 44 per cent felt conversations were shorter than ever and a third (33 per cent) admitted they talked less to friends and family these days because they texted and e-mailed instead.

Nearly half (46 per cent) said they deliberately used text messaging because it meant they did not have to spend so much time going through conversational niceties.

But it also means that a fifth (20 per cent) admitted that they feel they know less about what really goes on in the lives of their friends and relatives.

Communication breakdown

The results were analysed by psychologist Dr David Lewis who claimed communicating electronically meant people were becoming less adept at both talking and listening.

He said: "We pick up so much about someone's feelings or emotions from the sound of their voice and that is lost in a text or e-mail, where we 'hear' only the information we need.

"The concern is that too much "techno talk" makes us uncomfortable with more intimate face-to-face conversations and means we stop communicating effectively with each other." British Gas spokesman Dave Palmer added:

"Electronic communication means that it's never been easier to stay in touch.

"But it doesn't allow for meaningful conversation and is no good when you want to really talk to friends, family or loved ones."

Mr Palmer added: "At the end of a bad day, we'd all rather have a friendly voice at the end of the line and a good session on the phone."

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now