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Six-year-olds understand technology better than adults says Ofcom

UK study found the average DQ score for 6 year olds is 98 compared to 96 for the over-forties

Six-year-olds understand technology better than adults says Ofcom
Children growing up in the digital age know more about smartphones and tablet apps that adults.

The UK's communications regulator, Ofcom says that the average six-year-old child understands more about digital technology than a 45-year-old adult, in a report published today.

The research, which measured confidence and knowledge of communications technology to calculate an individual's "Digital Quotient" score, or "DQ", showed that for six to seven year olds, who have grown up with YouTube, Spotify music streaming and iPlayers, the average score was 98, higher than for those aged between 45 and 49, who's average was 96.

"These younger people are shaping communications," said Jane Rumble, Ofcom's media research head. "As a result of growing up in the digital age, they are developing fundamentally different communication habits from older generations, even compared to what we call the early adopters, the 16-to-24 age group."

The study of nearly 2,000 adults and 800 children also showed that people in the UK hit peak confidence and understanding of digital communications and technology when they are in their mid-teens; this drops gradually up to late 50s and then falls rapidly from aged 60 and over.

Children aged 12-15 are turning away from talking on the telephone with just 3% of their communications time is spent making voice calls, while the vast majority (94%) is text based, such as instant messaging and social networking.

Over 90% of children's device time is message based, chatting on social networks like Facebook, or sending instant messages. Just 2% of children's time use is spent emailing, compared to 33% for adults.

While half of all adults claimed to know a lot about smartphone and tablet apps, nearly half had never heard of Snapchat. More than half of children aged 6-15 claim to use and know a lot about smartphone and tablet apps, with only 3% having never heard of them.

The study also found that the average UK adult now spends more time using media or communications (8 hours 41 minutes) than they do sleeping (8 hours 21 minutes - the UK average).

"Because we're squeezing more into our day by multi-tasking on different devices, total use of media and communications averaged over 11 hours every day in 2014. This is an increase of more than 2 hours since Ofcom last conducted similar research in 2010.

"Since then, we're even better connected through superfast broadband and 4G mobile, and communicating on the move." Ofcom said.

Among the adult population, the 16-24s spend the most time on media and communications by managing to squeeze over 14 hours of media and communications activity into 9 hours 8 minutes each day by multi-tasking and using different media and devices at the same time.

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