‘Teens the most tech-savvy’

The ‘millennium generation’ of 14 and 15 year olds are the most technology-savvy in the UK, benefitting from access to broadband and digital communications while growing up, according to research.

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The study by communications regulator Ofcom found that six-year-olds have the same understanding of digital technology as 45-year-olds, while those in their teens have the best understanding. This digital confidences goes into long-term decline when people reach their 20s, culminating in a steep drop at 60 years old.

The research measures confidence and knowledge of communications technology to give people a “digital quotient” (DQ) score, with the average UK adult scoring 100. Those aged 14 and 15 have the highest score at 113, with that figure dropping to 80 in those aged over 75.

The difference in score is reflected in shifting communication habits, with younger consumers embracing newer technology and taking advantage of mobile devices. Children aged 12 to 15 are less likely to talk on the phone, with the vast majority (94 per cent) of their communications text based via instant message and social media services. 

In contrast, UK adults spend a fifth of their communication time on the phone and a third on email. On average, UK adults now spend 8 hours 41 minutes using media and communications, more time than they spend sleeping.

“The communication habits of all ages are shifting as they embrace newer services and take advantage of portable connected devices,” says Ofcom.

The Ofcom research looks at a range of communication and media habits, from tablet use to TV viewing. It found that:

  • Four in 10 households now have a tablet, up from a quarter a year ago, while 61 per cent have a smartphone.
  • Total communications revenue was unchanged at £60.2bn in 2013, although average per household fell to £117.08 with the largest decrease in mobile services.
  • TV viewership dropped below four hours per day for the first time since 2009.
  • The UK TV industry generated £12.9bn in 2013, up 3.4 per cent mainly due to higher spending on sports channels.
  • More than six million consumers have 4G mobile subscriptions out of a total 55 million.

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