Research finds that most people hit their peak confidence and understanding of technology when they are just 15; this drops gradually up to until their late 50s and then falls rapidly from 60 and beyond
Six-year-olds have the same level of understanding of modern technology such as mobile phones and tablets as 45-year-olds, according to a new report.
The report, published by communications watchdog Ofcom, found that people’s ability to cope with gadgets and new technologies peaks at the age of 15 before gradually dropping until their late 50s.
Once adults reach 60 years old their confidence and understanding of technology falls rapidly, the study found.
It also showed that most British adults are still clinging to older forms of physical media such as books, CDs and DVDs despite the growth in digital music, films and devices.
Almost 90 per cent of 45- to 54-year-olds own a CD collection, and the average 55- to 64-years-olds owns 118 books.
While the vast majority of teenagers communicate using text based methods such as instant messaging and social networking while older generations still find it good to talk, with 20 per cent of UK adults’ communications time spent on the phone on average.
However, despite the reluctance of some older generations to embrace digital communications, Ofcom’s research found that the communications habits of adults of all ages are shifting.
The average UK adult now spends 8 hours 41 minutes using media or communications every day – more time than they spend sleeping.
Many are also multi-tasking on different devices, bringing the average total use of media and communications to over 11 hours per day in 2014.
Tablets are popular across all generations, with more than a quarter of those over 55 now owning a tablet and many using it as their main computing device. However, smartphone ownership differs greatly by age, with only 14 per cent of those aged over 65 owning a smartphone, compared to 88 per cent of 16-24s.
“Our research shows that a ‘millennium generation’ is shaping communications habits for the future,” said Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom.
“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 that, while technology is seen by many as a distraction, a quarter of workers think technology is improving their work-life balance.
Just under half say it is not making much difference either way and 16 per cent think it is making their work-life balance worse.
Six in 10 workers do some form of work-related communications activity outside of working hours, with 46 per cent emailing from home, 41 per cent taking part in work-related telephone calls, and 37 per cent sending text messages outside their working hours.