UK 6-year-olds have the same understanding of communications technology as 45-year-olds, Ofcom claims

The independent regulator for the UK communications industry, Ofcom, has conducted a survey on the knowledge and confidence of digital communication technologies among nearly 2,000 UK adults. In general, teens of 12-15 years old are the most tech-savvy respondents, while people aged 55 years old and over are losing their confidence in mastering new digital tools and devices.

Age groups

The study suggests a relative index that measures the level of digital skills — the so-called «Digital Quotient» score — that equals to 100 on average. The earliest digital adopters, kids aged 12-15 are, probably, the most interesting category of respondents, as they are developing different communication patterns. Just 3% of their communication activities is spent on voice calls, while 94% is based on text messages — whether instant or sent through social media platforms. The older group is more conservative: 20% of all communication activities of UK adults are phone calls, nearly 33% are via traditional emails.

Photo: Digital confidence score, Ofcom research
Photo: Digital confidence score, Ofcom research


The study shows that the average UK adult spends around 8 hours 41 minutes using digital comms tools and media, while sleep even less — 8 hours 21 minutes on average. The 16-24-year-olds socialize and spend on digital communication most of all — around 9 hours and 8 minutes.


44% of the respondents have at least one tablet device in their household, while 28% of those who are over 55 use it as a main communication device. Regarding the smartphones, the number of their owners among young people of 16-24 is higher than among elderly people of 65+: 88% against 14%, respectively. If in 2013 around 51% of adults owned a smartphone, in 2014 this digit increased to 61%. This growth contributed to extra 2 hours spent daily on digital communication since 2010. While smartphone ownership grows, the popularity of PCs is gradually dropping: from 44% in 2012 to 35% in 2014.

Read the full 429-page 2014 Communications Market Report by Ofcom by media channels, age groups, type of device, average household spend on communications, and other factors here.

You can also find out your ‘Digital Quotient’ by taking the Ofcom’s test online.