Six-year-olds have the same understanding of communications technology as 45-year-olds, according to a report from Ofcom on the ‘millennium generation’.
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Ofcom's eleventh Communications Market Report of 2,000 adults and 800 children found teenagers born at the turn of the millennium are unlikely to have known ‘dial-up’ internet and are the first generation to benefit from broadband and digital communications while growing up.
The report measures the confidence and knowledge of communications technology, calculating an individual’s digital quotient (DQ) score. The average UK adult scored 100.
Of those surveyed, more than 60% of people aged 55 and over have a below average DQ score, with the report finding that we hit our peak confidence and understanding of digital communications and technology when we are in our mid-teens.
This confidence and understanding gradually drops in our late 50s and then plummets from 60 beyond.
Twelve to 15 year olds were found to have different communication habits than older generations, even when compared to 16-24 year olds.
Those in the 12-15 age group are turning away from talking on the telephone, spending only 3% of their communication time on the phone. But the group spends 94% of its time texting (using instant messaging and social messaging).
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However, older generations still spend 20% of their communications time on the phone. Adults have embraced digital text-based communication with, email being the most popular - 33% of communication time compared to 2% among 12-15 year olds.
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "Our research shows that a 'millennium generation' is shaping communications habits for the future. While children and teenagers are the most digitally savvy, all age groups are benefitting from new technology.
"We're now spending more time using media or communications than sleeping. The convenience and simplicity of smartphones and tablets are helping us cram more activities into our daily lives."
The report also found the average UK adult spends more tome using media or communications (8 hours 41 minutes) than they do sleeping (8 hours 21 minutes).
Of the age groups the 16-24 year olds are spending the most time on media and communications, squeezing 14 hours of activity into nine hours and eight minutes each day, by multi-tasking on different media devices at the same time.
According to the findings, 44% of households now have a tablet, up from 24% a year ago. More than a quarter (28%) of those are aged over 55, with many of them using them as their main computing device.
The figures found that nine in ten (88%) of 16 to 24-year-olds own a smartphone, whereas only 14% of over 65s own one. These young adults spend three hours and 36 minutes on their smartphones each day compared to the average UK adult, who spends one hour 22 minutes on their phone.
Among the average UK adult, desktop PC ownership is falling from 44% in 2012 to 35% in 2014. A total of 63% said they own laptops.