One in three Americans can't set up a Wi-Fi router

Technology has pervaded our lives, but according to a recent survey, the average American seems to fail when it comes to digital literacy.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Do Americans lack the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary for technology self-sufficiency? Are rising generations incompetent in practical matters, or can we manage just fine? A new survey aims to find out just how practical Americans actually are today.

Oceanside, Calif.-based relocation company Hire a Helper surveyed 992 Americans from baby boomers to Generation Z. It wanted to gauge their abilities to complete a range of hands-on DIY and technology-based tasks and tested their knowledge in several areas.

The company wanted to find out how knowledge gaps vary in areas such as technology, money management, and home repairs.  

One in three Americans cannot set up A Wi-Fi router zdnet
Hire A Helper

The survey showed that some skills are passed down from parent to child, such as home economics. However, technology is one of the topics that parents do not tend to pass down, and its use is beyond some Americans.

Around one in 10 Americans admitted that they have never connected to a Bluetooth device. Almost two out of three (65%) of Americans lack basic HTML coding skills

It turns out, aside from not having a basic understanding of the internet, Americans cannot get connected. Almost one in three (30%) of Americans have never set up a Wi-Fi router.

The survey shows that a majority of people do not understand the engineering behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Across the generations, millennials are considered to be best at having tech skills, with over half of respondents saying that this generation was the best.

However, Generation Z considered themselves best at tech skills, with almost three out of five (56.2%) believing themselves to be best.

All age ranges considered baby boomers to be worst at tech skills (less than 3.31%). Only 7.21% of baby boomers themselves believed they were best at tech skills.

Baby boomers seem to struggle with other skills. Less than two out of three (65.4%) have connected a Bluetooth device. Only three out of five (60.1%) have set up a Wi-Fi router, and less than one in three (30.3%) can code basic HTML.

This is in sharp contrast with millennials, who scored highest across all tasks. In this age range, almost nine out of 10 (89.5%) have connected a Bluetooth device. Three out of four (76.6%) have set up a Wi-Fi router, and over one in three (36.0%) can code basic HTML.

Over three out of four believed that baby boomers would be worst at tech skills -- including baby boomers themselves. Over four out of five (80.1%) respondents in this age group felt this to be true.

Although baby boomers were perceived as having the least tech skills, this age group scored highly in other skills such as addressing an envelope or writing a check or thank-you letter.  

While many of us will no longer write a check, having a good range of skills is still important. Often finding a professional to do the job for you is hard, so it makes sense to learn the relevant skill and do it yourself.

Even if it does mean picking up that user guide and reading through the how-to pages to get that job done yourself.

Editorial standards