Now, put that mobile phone down and concentrate.

Reality TV programmes such as Big Brother and X-Factor have proved a boon for the mobile phone industry, with more than a fifth of users using text messaging to vote in a TV or radio poll over a three month period. But it's not such good news for companies as many of these calls are made during working hours - and on company phones too.

According to analyst M:Metrics, 21.8 percent of British mobile subscribers (8.9 million) used their mobile to vote during the quarter ended January 2006, compared with 12.1 percent of Germans (five million) and seven per cent of US users (12.3 million).

The research depicts Britons as practically welded to their mobiles. Approximately 84 per cent of British users sent a text message in a month, with the Germans close behind at 79 per cent. But whereas the Germans were just as likely as the Brits to use SMS for worthy reasons such as work e-mail, they lagged behind when it came to the important stuff, such as opining about a television or radio show.

And a lot of this mobile use seems to be during office hours – or even at office expense. The heaviest mobile users were found to be students in employment, followed closely by workers whose employees pay their mobile bills. "A number of mobile applications are driven by TV gaming, which is frankly not at the forefront of the business mind," said Paul Goode, a senior analyst from M:Metrics. "You could look at entertainment as being a Trojan horse to the business community."

The British are also a lot keener on photo messaging than their German counterparts, although whether this is due to the British trend of happy slapping is anybody’s guess. More than a quarter of British users used photo messaging in a given month, compared to 19 per cent of the possibly less-photogenic Germans.

Corporate e-mail was another growing area, found the survey. "We are seeing a generic upsurge in e-mail usage driven by things like Blackberry," said Goode. “As operators move into 'all you can eat' bills, business applications will take off, especially Skype, for example, as quality improves.” Around three percent of both British and German users used their mobiles for this purpose.