File photo: Reuters

London - Children as young as six have a better understanding of modern technology than most 45-year-olds, a study has found.

From smartphones and tablet computers, to 3D printers and smart glasses, hi-tech advances over the past decade have left older generations unable to keep up with the youngsters in their family.

A survey by communications watchdog Ofcom found teenagers aged 14 and 15, who were born at the turn of the millennium, and have therefore lived with broadband internet all their lives, are the most confident with technology.

Young adults now spend more than three and a half hours on their smartphones every day, nearly three times longer than the national average.

And even primary school children are more confident at using the latest devices than their parents.

More than 60 per cent of adults over 55 admitted they struggle with new technology. Ofcom said the future of media and digital communications are now being shaped by the “millennium generation” for whom slow “dial-up” internet connections are a relic of history.

Those aged eight have never known a world without social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. At the same time many older people are still learning to use email.

Ofcom asked 2 800 Britons to fill in an in-depth questionnaire about their knowledge of new technology and ability to use different devices.

Researchers scored each age group on their digital confidence, with the average UK adult achieving a “digital quotient” mark of 100.

The survey found six-year-olds had a score of 98, rising to 113 in the 14 to 15 age group.

Meanwhile 45-year-olds scored only 96 points, dropping to 80 among the over-75s. More than 84 percent of youngsters aged between 12 and 15 claimed they would not know how to live without the latest technology.

Although older generations are being outstripped by youngsters, they are still buying tablet computers in increasing numbers. Almost a third of over-55s now own a tablet device, up from just 11 percent last year.

However, just 14 percent of over 65s own a smartphone, compared with almost nine in ten of 16 to 24-year-olds.

Ofcom also found that teenagers no longer use traditional phone calls to communicate, instead preferring to use written messages on social media, instant messaging via the internet or text messages.

Those aged 12 to 15 spend just three percent of their time on the phone, compared with 20 percent for adults.

Jane Rumble, head of media research and intelligence at Ofcom, said the results could signal the demise of telephones because the younger generation “loses its voice” and opts for more impersonal forms of communication.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards added: “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. The convenience and simplicity of smartphones and tablets are helping us cram more activities into our daily lives.” - Daily Mail