London: As Prime Minister David Cameron and others seek to clamp down on social media during crisis, industry figures indicate that Britain is now a nation that is `addicted to smartphones` such as iPhone, BlackBerry and Android.The riot have been branded `BlackBerry riots` because rioters mainly used the Brackberry Messenger system to communicate instantly with other feral groups and coordinate attacks in various areas in London.
The misuse prompted BlackBerry to offer help to the police to help track down rioters.
The scale of smartphone saturation is evident from latest figures that show that half of all teens in Britain now own a smartphone.
Most of the over 1000 people arrested for the riots are teenagers.
Research by industry regulator shows that 60 percent of teens are `highly addicted` to smartphones, which are beginning to affect social behaviour.
Users confess to using them everywhere from the dining table to the bathroom and bedroom.
Teenagers especially are ditching more traditional activities in favour of their smartphone, with 23 percent claiming to watch less TV and 15 percent admitting they read fewer books.
Asked about the use of these devices, 37 percent of adults and 60 percent of teens admit they are highly addicted.
The Ofcom research says, the rapid growth in the use of smartphones which offer internet access, email and a variety of internet-based applications ? is changing the way many of us, particularly teenagers, act in social situations?.
It adds, "The vast majority of smartphone users (81 percent) have their mobile switched on all of the time, even when they are in bed, with four in ten adults (38 percent) and teens (40 percent) admitting using their smartphone after it woke them".
Teenagers, it says, are also more likely to use their smartphone in places they are asked to switch their phone off such as the cinema or library.
Cameron told the House of Commons last week, "Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organised via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill?.
He added: "And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them.
Police were facing a new circumstance where rioters were using the BlackBerry Messenger service, a closed network, to organise riots.
We`ve got to examine that and work out how to get ahead of them."
Cameron said Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion (Rim), the maker of BlackBerry devices, should take more responsibility for content posted on their networks.
The home secretary, Theresa May, is to hold meetings with the three companies within weeks.
First Published: Sunday, August 14, 2011, 15:41