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More UK adults can set up a smart phone than bleed a radiator

  • Half of UK adults aged under 25 don’t know how to use a washing machine
  • But younger people are teaching older generations to become tech-savvy
  • Three fifths of UK adults are confident setting up a social media account
  • But only two fifths know how to put up a shelf

UK adults are more likely to know how to set up a social media account than unblock a sink, bleed a radiator or put up a shelf, an Aviva survey reveals today.

The study of household tasks suggests some people are relegating practical skills, in favour of tech knowhow and social savviness.

More than 2,000 UK adults were interviewed about which domestic duties they could do confidently. The research revealed: 

  • More than a quarter of people don’t know how to use a washing machine.
  • More than three in 10 don’t know how to change a light bulb.
  • Nearly seven out of 10 UK adults don’t know how to change a flat tyre.

And yet, six in 10 (59%) do know how to create a social media account and even more (61%) know how to set up a smart phone.

20%

A fifth of UK people aged under 25 have shown a parent how to use hashtags on social media.

The gulf between tech tasks and practical chores is particularly marked amongst younger people. Less than half of under 25s know how to use a washing machine (49%) and only two fifths (39%) know how to read a map, compared to the UK average of 59%. However, this age group is most likely to know how to set up an online dating profile at 41% - noticeably higher than the average across all age groups (31%).

The study also found that younger people are sharing their skills with older generations. A fifth of UK people (20%) aged under 25 have shown a parent how to use hashtags on social media, and a third (33%) in this age group have told them how to post updates on social media accounts. Nearly a third have taught a parent how to take a selfie (31%).

Gareth Hemming, MD of Personal Lines, Global General Insurance for Aviva says: “It’s fascinating to see how life skills are changing and which forms of knowledge are being shared across generations. 

"Younger people are more likely to pick up ‘traditional’ skills from older relatives, while parents and grandparents are benefiting from younger people’s tech talents.
Gareth Hemming, MD of Personal Lines, Global General Insurance

"At Aviva, we’re definitely seeing more people using digital channels for a range of tasks, from taking out a policy to making a claim.

“However, not everything can be done online, so there’s a place for practical skills too. Aviva analysis suggests that bodged DIY jobs can cost UK householders more than £7 billion a year. Even a seemingly simple task such as putting up a picture could lead to a burst pipe – which can cause all manner of headaches. While it’s great to learn new skills and try out new things, if people are not confident taking on a household challenge, it may be better to ask someone who knows what they’re doing!”

The full list of practical skills at selected ages is as follows:

Household task

Percentage of UK people who can do task confidently (all ages)

Percentage of UK people who can do task confidently (aged 25-34)

Percentage of UK people who can do task confidently (aged 55+)

Use a washing machine

73%

57%

91%

Change a lightbulb

69%

50%

90%

Iron a shirt

67%

50%

86%

Cook a complete meal without using a recipe

62%

46%

83%

Hang a picture on a wall

61%

45%

76%

Set up a smart phone

61%

59%

60%

Read a map

59%

41%

79%

Set up a social media account

59%

58%

58%

Switch utilities provider e.g. gas / electricity

57%

41%

79%

Arrange an insurance policy

56%

37%

81%

Unblock a sink

53%

36%

73%

Set up / connect to a new printer

51%

41%

64%

Wire a plug

48%

18%

76%

Bleed a radiator

45%

27%

68%

Put up a shelf

41%

33%

51%

Put up wallpaper

37%

25%

51%

Change a flat tyre

32%

19%

42%

Set up a dating profile on an app

31%

32%

22%

-ENDS-

Media enquiries:

Sarah Poulter

Group External Communications

Sources:

Data is taken from a survey of 2,009 adults across the UK, conducted by Censuswide Research in February 2020, on behalf of Aviva.

Notes to editors:

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