A surge in the number of text messages sent across the UK has relegated traditional phone calling to a secondary option for adults.
According to research by watchdog Ofcom, sending an SMS or instant-style message is now more popular than ringing someone up or meeting them face-to-face.
Its Communications Market Report 2012, published today, found the average Brit sends 50 texts a week, a number that has doubled in four years and boosted the number of messages delivered across the country in 2011 to more than 150billion.
The report is designed to examine the changing ways in which we now communicate and it revealed that, for the first time ever, fewer phone calls are being made on fixed landlines and mobiles - with a drop of 5%.
This traditional form of communication has instead been replaced by an average of 90 minutes a week accessing social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter, sending emails or using a mobile to check the internet.
James Thickett, Ofcom's director of research, said: "Our research reveals that in just a few short years, new technology has fundamentally changed the way that we communicate. Talking face-to-face or on the phone are no longer the most common ways for us to interact with each other.
"In their place, newer forms of communications are emerging which don't require us to talk to each other – especially among younger age groups. This trend is set to continue as technology advances and we move further into the digital age."
Another study, by messaging technology company Acision, believes texting continues to be popular because of its simplicity and due to an emotional bond we have with it.
Its own research showed 92% of smartphone users still text despite being able to use other instant messaging services or chatting in real time through social networks.
The average 18-25 year old sends 133 SMS messages a week, its research found, double any other age group. Men also use it more than women, but send shorter more functional messages.
Psychologist Graham Jones explained: "People today are also compartmentalising their messages as they all have a specific purpose. Email is being used much less for personal communication and much more for business, whereas social networks tend to remain a medium to message friends and peers, sometimes on a one-to-many basis.
"Text messaging remains a functional communication tool, but still with a personal aspect, which could explain its longevity. You can say things in text you wouldn’t necessarily say on another communication tool."
He added: "The findings of this study show that text messaging remains popular, and I believe this comes down to trust and reliability. If a user sends a message via a social network, it may feel less immediate, and there are more technological hurdles which could hinder the delivery.
"Texting however often elicits an immediate response. Running in the back of the human mind is the need to do everything with the least possible effort, and we instinctively search for the easiest way to communicate. This is why we rely on and still love text messaging."
Acision also found as many as 15% of mobile users in the UK have called in sick via text, perhaps in a bid to avoid an awkward conversation with their boss.
Jorgen Nilsson, CEO of Acision, believes: "There is something incredibly powerful about SMS when 69% of users claim that they need it or couldn’t live without it. People tend to check their text messages instantly, which doesn’t necessarily happen with other services."
The comprehensive Ofcom research also shines a light on the use of technology throughout Britain today, across all age groups.
Only 63% of 16-24s say they talk face-to-face with friends and family on a daily basis but 96% admitted to using some kind of text-based application to do so instead.
UK households now own an average of three different types of internet-enabled device with 15% owning six or more and tablets such as the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab are now in 11% of homes compared to just 2% in the first three months of last year.
The report also revealed average broadband speeds in Britain are 7.6Mbit/s; four in 10 adults now owns a smartphone up 12% since 2010; more than a third of TVs sold in Britain in 2011 were above 43 inches and 37% of Brits with the internet use it to watch catch-up TV instead of tuning in for traditional appointment viewing.
It also states eight out of 10 people in the UK now have access to the internet with a massive increase in web connectivity among the 65-74 age group, up nine per cent to 64%.
Ofcom added the total number of fixed broadband connections passed 20 million for the first time in 2011, with over five million mobile broadband connections.