Millennial ‘Digital Natives’ Aren’t Tech-Savvy, Report Says


Despite being a generation of individuals growing up with technology and the Internet, American millennials are not as tech savvy as expected, Change for Education research reveals. About 83% of digital natives are sleeping with their smartphones, yet 6 in 10 millennials cannot perform basic tech tasks.

Change in Education, the nonprofit that conducted the research titled “Does Not Compute,” shows that although millennials spend approximately 35 hours per week on digital media, they “have a hard time solving problems using technology” that would facilitate and boost workplace productivity.

The report also reveals that US millennials are ranked 19th out of 19 countries tested on tech skills such as using more than one software or application to solve a multi-step problem.

The research is based on 2012 data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies study that was conducted by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report highlights:

“A full 19 percent of millennials fall into the “Below Level 1″ category, indicating that they “would have trouble sorting email responses to a party invitation into pre-existing folders to keep track of who can and cannot attend,”

The researchers point out that tech skills not only increase workplace productivity, but can help millennials earn a higher income:

“The person at the lowest skill level earns 40 percent less than the person at the highest skill level when you hold other characteristic constant. . . . Technology skills separate the crowd,” Linda Rosen, Change of Education CEO says.

91% of millennials believe that their lack of tech skills doesn’t affect their career prospects. However, only 4 in 10 employers say that recent college graduates can keep up with new technologies, according to a different survey by the American Association of Colleges and Universities.

This widespread belief on the relationship between tech skills and career prospects means that about 13 million tech illiterate millennials are unaware of how their tech incompetency sabotages their future success.

Rosen warns that the report topples the misconception that the first generation of digital natives are tech savvy:

“If we continue to leave young people to their own devices — quite literally — their low skills will become a dead weight on individual opportunity and American productivity.”

The report says that being “tech savvy is an engine of opportunity”:

“[T]echnology won’t add much to the human equation if we can’t use it to solve problems. it would lose its power to supercharge productivity  and accelerate innovation. Fortunately, some of the nation’s best STEM education programs are showing by example how we ensure that the next generation becomes truly tech savvy.”