Apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are seeing a surge in popularity in the UK, regulator Ofcom said.
The watchdog’s latest communications market report, which surveyed 2025 users, found that the proportion of people using IM services increased from 28 per cent in 2014 to 43 per cent in 2016, with the increase coming at the expense of SMS text messaging and email, which are both in decline.
The report found that the proportion of people emailing had fallen by 7 per cent points to 70 per cent, with text falling 8 percentage points to 63 per cent, over the same period.
The 16-24 age bracket, Ofcom said, were more likely to embrace online services, with instant messaging more important to this segment than other means of communications.
Older people, while increasingly exploiting digital communications technology, were more likely to use established services.
Some 21 per cent of people surveyed are also using photo or video messaging services, such as Snapchat, up from 14 per cent in 2014.
In terms of individual apps, according to data from comScore cited by Ofcom, Facebook Messenger attracted the largest number of mobile users in April this year, with an audience of 22.5 million, while WhatsApp had 16.7 million unique users.