Chart: Your tech peak is in your mid-teens, and it’s all downhill from there

Chairman Mao: Definitely of below-average digital quotient.
Chairman Mao: Definitely of below-average digital quotient.
Image: Reuters/Carlos Barria
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

If you think you’re a tech guru in the working world, think again. There is probably someone better than you out there, and it’s not an executive at a competing firm. Digital savviness peaks sometime between the ages of 14 and 15, and then drops gradually throughout adulthood, before falling rapidly in old age, according to a new study of 2,800 Britons.

Though AOL surprisingly still has 2.3 million dialup subscribers in the US, most of today’s teens will never have heard the screeches and bleeps of the dialup internet. And the study shows the way they approach communication is fundamentally different from older generations. Ofcom, the British telecoms regulator, devised a “digital quotient” that measures a person’s awareness and confidence with technology, where (as with IQ) a score of 100 is the adult average:


14- to 15-year olds, who were the first to benefit from broadband connections and digital perks, boasted the highest score of 113, and the average six-year-old scored better than most people past middle age. Unsurprisingly, 60% of people older than 55  had a below-average score.

The also report found that half of the adults tested did not know about Snapchat, Google Glass, or Apple’s rumored iWatch. More than half claimed to know about tablets, smartphones, and apps.

But young digital natives might be weaker on verbal communication skills, too. The report found that for those aged 12 to 15, phone calls account for just 3% of their time spent communicating through any device. Most of the British teens’ remote socializing happens through texts, photos or videos. Snapchat was particularly popular, with 18% of teens using it and 11% knowing a lot about it.