Almost nine in ten (88%) of 16 to 24 year-olds now own a smartphone, compared to 14% among those aged 65+, according to new Ofcom research. Smartphone ownership has increased rapidly over the past twelve months in the UK, rising to 61% of adults, compared to 51% a year earlier.
The research forms part of the telecomms regulator's eleventh Communications Market Report. Involving nearly 2,000 adults and 800 children, the study reveals how tablet and smartphone devices are starting to dominate how we work and play with over four in 10 households (44%) now having a tablet – up from 24% a year ago. More than a quarter (28%) of those over 55 now own a tablet with many using it as their main computing device.
The report measures confidence and knowledge of communications technology to calculate an individual’s digital quotient (DQ) score with the average UK adult scoring 100.
The ‘millennium generation’ of 14 and 15 year-olds are the most technology-savvy in the UK, according to Ofcom. The teenagers are the first generation to benefit from broadband and digital communications while growing up.
The study found that six-year-olds claim to have the same understanding of communications technology as 45-year olds. It also revealed how more than 60% of people aged 55 and over have a below average DQ score.
The research found we hit our peak confidence and understanding of digital communications and technology when we are in our mid-teens with this gradually up to our late 50s before falling rapidly from 60 and beyond.
Ofcom’s research also showed how the average UK adult now spends more time using media or communications - 8 hours, 41 minutes - than they do sleeping i.e. 8 hours 21 minutes.
Commenting on the findings, Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, 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.'
He highlighted how people are 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.'
Meanwhile, James Thickett, Ofcom's director of research, said: 'While gadgets can prove a distraction, technology is actually improving work-life balance for some.'
With six in ten of us do some form of working outside of normal hours, but the trade-off is that 'we’re making personal calls and doing our life admin at work,' he said.