Technology knowledge -- it's all downhill after you're 14

Teenage tablet users

A new study by the UK's communications regulator Ofcom finds that the "millennium generation" of 14-15 year olds are the most technology aware group but as we get older digital knowledge begins to decline.

The study of 2,000 adults and 800 children measured confidence and knowledge of communications technology to calculate a Digital Quotient (DQ) with the average UK adult scoring 100.

Today's 14 year olds have a DQ of 113 and are the first generation to have grown up with the benefits of broadband, probably never knowing the pleasures of dial-up internet. People in their 40s have a DQ in the high 90s, around the same as a modern six-year-old. Over 70s score a DQ in the 80s. You can try this out for yourself and see how you compare with a quick three minute taster test.


These differences manifest themselves in various ways. Most communication by 12-15 year olds for example is by text (94 percent) with just three percent spent on voice calls. By contrast adults spend 20 percent of their communications time on the phone and 33 percent on email.

At all age groups we're communicating more than ever. An average UK adult now spends more time using media or communications (8 hours 41 minutes) than they do sleeping (8 hours 21 minutes -- the UK average). It's the 16-24 group who spend the most time on media and communications. They manage to cram over 14 hours of media and communications activity into 9 hours 8 minutes each day by multi-tasking, using different media and devices at the same time.

Device use is shifting away from the PC with 44 percent of surveyed households now owning a tablet, up from 24 percent last year. This applies across age groups with 28 percent of over 55s owning a tablet and many saying it's their main computing device.

Despite our love of digital technology though we're reluctant to give up our physical media. Books were owned by 84 percent of UK adults in April 2014, down from 93 percent in 2005. 80 percent have DVDs (down from 81 percent) with music CDs showing the biggest decline, 79 percent this year, down from 92 percent. The average size of a book collection fell by three books to 86 per person, while the average size of a music CD collection declined by six CDs to 84. Age makes a big difference here though, 16-24 year olds are much less likely to own CDs whereas 90 percent of 45 to 55s have them.

You can find out more about the results of the survey on the Ofcom website.


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