By Daniel Hunter

Families in the UK are using instant messaging and video calls to talk to each other in the home, according to new research from Microsoft Advertising.

Almost one in three (30 per cent) said they use devices such as tablets and smartphones to let each other know when dinner is ready (rather than shouting up the stairs), or ask for help with homework. Further to this, nearly a third (31 per cent) use social networks to communicate with family members, while 16 per cent make video calls to each other.

The ‘Families’ research was carried out by Sparkler and looked at over 1,500 families and their use of connected devices in the home*.

The study from Microsoft Advertising reveals that the average family home contains 10 different devices, with almost six (57 per cent) of these connected to the internet. These devices are encouraging family members to second screen, with three quarters (73 per cent) of those surveyed saying they use a separate smartphone, tablet or laptop while watching TV.

“The ‘Families’ research gives brands and advertisers plenty to think about by revealing a whole new method of communication between family members in the home. Just a few years ago texts, Facebook posts and video calls were reserved for making contact with people who couldn’t be reached through traditional communication, but this is no longer the case," Tim Lumb, Research Manager at Microsoft Advertising said.

“Parents we spoke to are embracing new technologies as a way of bringing added convenience to day-to-day tasks. On more than one occasion we heard that parents are making video calls to let the kids know that dinner is ready — this is often a lot easier than trying to get their attention without burning the food!

“We also found that the use of multiple devices are bringing families together, with the living room once again acting as a central hub. Static games consoles and desktop computers used to mean leaving the room to surf the internet or play a game, but mobile devices allow family members to sit together and enjoy each other’s company while continuing with other personal connections or activities such as online shopping and chatting with friends."

Owen Sagness, UK General Manager for Microsoft Advertising and Online said: “The attention of the consumer has moved to multitasking on a range of devices whilst watching TV, making it crucial for advertisers to roll out an effective multi-platform strategy. Ensuring your campaigns are relevant and useful to whatever your audience is doing at that time is more important than ever.

"Having an insight into what people are doing at any time on a day-to-day basis is essential. With Xbox, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Bing, MSN and Skype, Microsoft has both the hardware and software that touches audiences at every point throughout their day, offering a seamless experience that enables brands to reach consumers on multiple screens and devices.”

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