By Claire West

A new phase in the digital divide is emerging as a growing number of us use seven or more digital devices in the home with up to five switched on at any one time.

According to the latest findings by consumer researchers, Intersperience,there is a 12% jump in the number of people who have seven or more digital devices whilst those with three or less remains the same as last year at 18%.

A new type of super user, the ‘device junky’, is emerging, represented by 29% of those surveyed. Whilst the majority of us (53%) have between four and six devices at home, a drop of 13% compared to the same time last year.

“We are seeing a new phase in the digital divide as the technology skills gap among consumers widens” comments Intersperience’s CEO Paul Hudson.

“At one end of the spectrum there are digitally connected multi-device using households, who are adept at multi-tasking. And at the other end there is a persistent minority with fewer than three devices whose online repertoire is
much more straight-forward.”

Over a thousand people in the UK, of all ages, were asked how new technology is being used in the home through surveys, brainstorms, smart-boards, diaries and discussions. Compared to a similar survey last year the results
show developing patterns of use with major implications for businesses that need to capture the attention of these polarising groups.

The ‘device junky’, the majority of who are under 45 years old, will have as many as five devices switched on at the same time. Multi-tasking, using several devices, dividing attention across devices rather than switching
focus and using them in a more social environment are examples of the ‘device junkies’ more complex digital behaviours. “I was watching TV Sky + HD whilst using an iPad and also using a phone to text” said one respondent*.

Family households are more likely to have more than seven devices suggesting the presence of young residents may well explain the wider digital catalogue and more complicated behaviours of use.

This contrasts with the group who has three or less devices in the home. They are adapting more slowly to technological upgrades creating a new phase in the digital divide. 60% of them are 45 plus years old.

Paul Hudson adds:
“The implications for businesses and organisations seeking to serve all demographics are potentially far-reaching. When you add in the two in 10 UK households that Ofcom recently claimed were still ‘digitally excluded’, with no internet connection at all, we estimate that 31% are nowhere near the
‘device junkie’ multi tasker. On the one hand, businesses have to invest heavily in technology to support the device junkies, whilst simultaneously continuing to invest in supporting the rest of the population who may not be
adapting as quickly.”