26% Of People Age 16-65 Have No Idea How To Use A Computer

Saying you’re “good with computers,” can mean a wide variety of things. Some people mean they’re able to go online and browse the internet, while others might mean that they actually know how to do some programming of their own. It’s hard to gauge how much more or less adept you are than other people when it comes to using computers—especially if you’re typically around people with similar skills. But researchers at one organization was curious to see how people’s computer skills fared across different countries, and it turns out, people aren’t all that great at using computers. That’s interesting, particularly when you consider how much time many of us spend in front of a computer screen!

Flickr | Ben Babcock

The chart below shows the distribution of tech skills, and it looks like the savvy users are a very small minority. The study, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, looked at over 200,000 people ages 16 to 65 across 33 countries during the years 2011 to 2015. They measured their literacy in job-related tech skills using tests of simple tasks. Each test had a level ranking. For example, a task in level 1 involved deleting emails. A task in level 2 was something like finding emails from a specific person, while a task in level 3 was something like figuring out what percentage of emails sent in a particular month by someone were about the same topic.

NN Group

The results were interesting. Only 5 percent of the U.S. population ranked at level 3 and only 26 percent achieved level 2 competency. But even more discouraging, for the 69 percent of the population below level 2, many couldn’t even use a computer at all—a whopping 26 percent, to be exact, across all the countries. The fact that you’re even reading this story online puts you at at least level 2, BTW,  so you can applaud yourself for that.

This technology divide is something the researchers noted, and it’s a gap they are trying to bridge. It might seem like second nature for you to turn on your computer and browse the web, but for a good portion of the population, that would be a daunting task.