We become less digitally-savvy after 16 (Wired UK)


We hit our digital peak as
teenagers, and it’s all downhill from there. Ofcom has revealed
this rather sad fact in its eleventh Communications Market Report, which looks at consumer
confidence in and knowledge of the digital sphere. The report mixes
survey data, from 2,000 adults and 800 children, with broadband
penetration stats to give age groups a digital savviness score.

Amongst its many conclusions, the report found: “Consumers’
relationship with communications technology varies by age, with the
highest levels of technological knowledge and confidence found
among 14-15 year olds. As age increases, consumers’ Digital
Confidence Score decreases, with 61 percent of over-55s registering
a below-average score.”

Unfortunately for anyone born in the 60s, the report also found
that six-year-olds today “have the same understanding of
communications technology as 45-year-olds”. Hit 60, and forget
about it, says the report. Our digital confidence tracks a rapid
decline as the proliferation and advancement of technology ramps at
an unmanageable pace. Or, it could be that 60-year-olds aren’t
super keen on being glued to Snapchat and similar services — the
report makes no assumption on whether the digital confidence
measures relate to a choice by some adults to opt-out of an
always-on world.

It does point out, however, that generational habits differ
widely “in the extent and types of use made of communications and
less so in terms of actual take-up of various platforms”. That’s
because mobile penetration and connectivity seems pretty spread out
across the age groups (until you get to 65 or older, when it drops
off sharply). Younger generations, for instance, prefer text,
instant messaging and social networking over phone calls. Older
generations opt for email or phone calls above all else.

Total use of media and communications usage among adults also
reached an average of around 11 hours a day, two hours more than in
2010. With the proliferation of better broadband and an
increase in the ownership of mobile devices, there is barely a
waking moment we’re not checking-in to our digital worlds
The report notes how six million people in the UK are now on 4G, so
that trend could increase further. By contrast, 16-24-year-olds
spend a total of 14 hours on their devices, but unnervingly that’s
actually being crammed into just 9 hours and 8 minutes — they are
the superior multitaskers, device-hopping is a default habit.

Here are a few other highlights from the report:

  • 44 percent of households have a tablet, up from 24 percent last
  • Young adults spend 3 hours 36 minutes on smartphones a day, 1
    hour 22 minutes for adults
  • Books are the most popular physical media, but we’re still
    holding on to CDs and DVDs — despite this ownership numbers have
    dropped off from 2005 
  • 24 percent think tech improves their work-life balance, 16
    percent think the opposite
  • 4 in 10 workers communicate for work outside of working hours,
    with 1 in 10 of those sending or reading work emails before falling
    asleep and as soon as they wake
  • The UK TV industry went up £426m in terms of revenue generated
    from 2012-13
  • Superfast broadband connections increased by 58 percent to 6.1
    million in the year to Q1 2014

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7 August 2014 | 11:58 am – Source: wired.co.uk

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