Move over Millennials - The ‘Generation of Things’ has arrived

A survey of more than 1,100 UK 13-17 year olds points to a connected generation in control of their data security, privacy and digital rights and preparing for the Internet of Things. The findings, published in the seventh Realtime Generation report by Logicalis UK, entitled 'Has The Generation of Things Arrived?' pose some big questions for UK Government and Plc.

The survey reveals the daily life of the average UK teen includes five devices and six hours engaged in digital activity, while they expect 3D printing (80%), self-health monitoring (69%), delivery drones (42%), and holographic tech (43%) to be in everyday use by 2024.

A more digital world does not mean more risk for Realtimers; 74% say adults underestimate their online resilience, and as future employees, consumers and voters they demonstrate a demand for change.

As students they want more technology in lessons (75%) and improvements to the IT curriculum (34%), as consumers they distrust social media platforms (62%) and want organisations to work hard for their personal data (72%), and as employees they say businesses will have to update IT and flexible working practices (79%).

Chris Gabriel, co-author of the report at Logicalis UK, comments, "The statistics show Realtimers understand the value of their digital skills and plan to use them. Two thirds say they'll build the technology they want for work themselves. Forget how 'Millennials' introduced BYOD into the workplace, can enterprises harness a workforce that will create and dictate their own working environments?

"The report also questions whether service organisations can match this generation's consumer mind-set on security, data protection and privacy. It seems both the public and private sector will need to step-up transparency, personalisation and big data strategies, and make service reward outweigh security risk if they're to convince these consumers to part with their personal information."

Further findings include:

Digital First: Footprints Get Smarter, and IoT Ready

  • Smart device ownership grows: 86% own smartphones; tablets rose one third to 68%, and 6% own wearables.
  • Coding numbers have doubled in the last 12 months. 16% code (12% girls vs. 20% boys) and of those that haven't, 40% would like to.
  • 93% learn via online videos, 50% stream and watch gaming sessions, 47% vlog or blog.
  • Up to 70% expect to control their first home remotely, 60% welcome driverless cars.
  • 82% believe biometrics - iris scanning and vein identification - will be common practice within 15 years, 59% would be comfortable using this today.

Digital Workforce: Self-Sufficient, Entrepreneurs & The Demise of the 9-5

  • 86% expect remote and flexible working opportunities
  • 60% want to work for themselves or start a business in the future, 88% agree entrepreneurship should be added to the curriculum.
  • 9 in 10 will choose the technology they use in the workplace
  • Two-thirds plan to code and create their own work apps when they enter employment
  • 95% demand mobile, but 74% think employers will still provide a traditional PC

Digital Rights: Control of Personal Data, Sharing and Privacy

  • 77% understand the 'right to be forgotten', more than half are concerned about their data 'living on', and 51% agree with controlling and removing links to data online.
  • 50% have reported offensive online behavior, 67% are more security-aware following 2014's high-profile hacks.
  • Almost three quarters are willing to share data with organisations in exchange for better, more tailored and personalised services.
  • Teens trust public sector most with their data (72% willing to share), over service providers (60%), brands (56%) and social media companies (48%). However 21% are 'very concerned' about data being accessed by international government agencies.
  • 77% are wary of third party data sharing and over two thirds are uncomfortable with online movements feeding into targeted advertising.
  • Personal health data is considered amongst the most valuable to share (64%) in exchange for improving future services.

Digital Education: STEM Subjects Rule, Gender Gaps Remain

  • Three quarters say teachers should do more with technology to improve lessons.
  • ICT has joined Maths and English in their top 3 subject choices.
  • IT and technology is the top career choice, up from fourth last year. A gap remains between boys (44%) and girls (14%) aspiring to technology careers.
  • Only two thirds say the curriculum for ICT and digital skills is good enough, a clear 20% less than Maths and English.
  • Just 7% of Realtimers plan for apprenticeships, the majority (78%) head for further education.

"Realtimers aspire to a digital, data-centric, connected future, but they hold the cards to the data ownership and sharing that drives this," Gabriel adds. "Whilst this generation can bring significant value to the economy, UK Government and business must nurture these digital skills and evolve services alongside them. As we see digital footprints grow smarter, and entering the IoT, organisations must act now to keep pace."

Survey Methodology

Online quantitative survey. 1,116 UK children aged 13-17. Fieldwork 12th December 2014 – 5th January 2015.

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