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Most people equate advanced digital skills and savvy to youth. However,
results from a new Wells Fargo survey suggests such assumptions can be erroneous.

For purposes of the survey, Wells Fargo grouped respondents into three categories: “Digital adults,” people who use advanced online tools for daily tasks, interaction and entertainment; “digital novices,” people with a general understanding of online tools who use them to manage basic tasks, but don’t interact with others online or manage complex tasks on the web; and “digital teens,” who fall in between novices and adults.

Shying Away from Complexity

According to the survey, while most people have entered the digital world, participation falls off sharply as complexity increases. For example, 93% of respondents have a digital camera, but less than a third use digital photo-sharing tools. Similarly, 92% of respondents
have a cell phone, but only 22% have used an internet-based phone service such as Skype.

More surprising is that according to the survey the most “adult group,” digitally speaking, is not twenty-somethings but thirty-somethings. While twenty-somethings led in the use of advanced online tools for entertainment, with such activities as watching television online and social networking, thirty-somethings are more likely to use advanced online photo and video technologies, career networking services, and financial management services.

Most Financial Users Keep it Simple

A similar pattern emerges with banking and managing finances online, the survey found. While more than 80% of respondents pay bills and transfer money between accounts online, only 38% have gone beyond banking to manage a 401K or IRA online.

Less than a third of respondents buy and sell stocks or manage investments online, and just 16% use an online budgeting tool. Fewer than half have obtained a free credit report online.

About the survey: Wells Fargo surveyed 1,000 male and female online banking customers across all age groups to measure their online
engagement, sophistication and habits, which signify “digital age.”

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