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lundi 11 août 2014

We become less digitally-savvy after 16


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 year
  • 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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