Oral communication is being overtaken by electronic methods in the UK, according to a YouGov survey published today.
Every region of Britain, apart from the north and Scotland, selected email as their top method of communication, according to a study of the day-to-day communication habits of more than 2,000 adults.
Respondents were asked to select their three preferred methods of communication. Following email (60 per cent), the second most popular was face-to-face (55 per cent), in third was SMS (50 per cent), with a mobile phone call coming a distant fourth (32 per cent).
But 60 per cent of respondents in the north and 61 per cent in Scotland chose face-to-face communications as their top method, compared to 49 per cent of Londoners and 47 per cent of those from Wales.
Social media was selected by 23 per cent of the nationwide sample, whereas instant messaging was chosen by only 12 per cent, but there were variations across different age groups.
Email was most popular among those aged 55 and over (70 per cent), with ease of use the main reason for selection, while social media was selected as the preferred method mostly by those aged 18 to 24 (46 per cent) and 25 to 34 (33 per cent) because of its ability to allow users to share information.
Instant messaging proved most used among the 18 to 24-year-olds (22 per cent) with speed named as the main reason for its use.
"The results show that across the UK regions, people's communications preferences vary according to where they live. Email is by far the most popular method, however talking face-to-face is still rated highly among people living in Scotland and the north,” said Dave Paulding of Interactive Intelligence, which devises software for call centres and commissioned the survey.
"The survey highlighted that respondents' preferences are largely based on either ease of use or speed of sending and receiving information. Choices seem to be down to convenience and time constraints rather than the most appropriate methods of communication.
"The nation certainly seems to be embracing these new changes in technology and, with the tech savvy younger generations using social media and instant messaging as a matter of course, perhaps this is a sign of how we will communicate in the future."
The survey of 2,268 adults was carried out online between 6-8 January.