Mobile users: Are you a cyborg or a denier?

Survey: People in the UK are increasingly becoming attached to their mobile phones, with a quarter saying they can't live without their phone

Mobile addiction in the UK is on the up, with 26 percent of users now classified as 'cyborgs', or people who can't imagine life without a mobile and feel lost without it.

This compares with of 18 percent last year, according to the fourth annual mobile behavioural study carried out by the University of Lancaster for consultancy Teleconomy.

Eighteen percent of UK mobile users fall into a new category of 'deniers', people who claim that they are not attached to their mobile but can't do without it, says this year's study.

"The emergence of the 'denier' group is fascinating, as this is a set of people who are unwilling to admit how important their mobile is to running their life," said Michael Hulme, University of Lancaster professor and chairman of Teleconomy, in a statement.

He goes on to say: "This group underestimates their usage, opting for packages that are too small and drastically exceeding their free minutes and text allowance every month."

The two other groups used in previous studies are the 'prosthetics', who see mobiles as an essential part of life but only as tools and not as intimate objects, and the 'unattached', who see mobiles as useful but who wouldn't miss theirs if it disappeared.

The last two categories make up 32 and 18 percent of the user population, respectively. The study is based on 1,400 qualitative and quantitative interviews.

Another group the academics have just discovered is the 'm-agers'. These are the 10 to 14-year-olds who have never known life without a mobile. They are much more likely to be aware of advanced features on mobiles but, due to cash shortage problems, are unlikely to use any that cost money.

Hulme's team thinks the 'm-agers' represent the future for mobile services, reasoning that when they do get their hands on some money they will not be reluctant to spend it on their mobile, or use their mobile to spend it.

This group wants their mobile to carry TV and MP3, provide access to the internet and to act as a payment device. They rate these features twice as highly as do adults.

Along with the user categories, Hulme has spotted a phenomenon called 'interspace'. This is the time we are on the move or between other activities and use the mobile to make or break arrangements.

Hulme said: "We use this time to constructively send messages or make calls that help us organise ourselves both in and out of work. Businesses are at present missing a very significant commercial opportunity to market products or services to individuals during this time. Interspace does appear to present us with real-estate waiting for commercial population."

In addition, the survey found that MMS has yet to take off, that owners of camera phones were using them as portable picture albums, that adults feel unable to use text for business purposes and children feel embarrassed if their parents text them.