Youth and Tech Savvy Not Always Related, Wells Fargo Survey Shows

Find Your “Digital Age” with Online Quiz

SAN FRANCISCO - January 21, 2010

When it comes to digital and online activities, most people equate technological savvy with youth. However, new results from a Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) survey prove that assumption wrong.

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.” Those described as “digital adults” use advanced online tools most frequently for daily tasks and to interact with others and look to the Internet for their entertainment. “Digital novices,” in contrast, have a general understanding of online tools and use them to manage basic tasks, but don’t yet take the next steps to interact with others online or manage their more complex tasks through the Web. “Digital Teens” are somewhere in between. You can find your own digital age by taking the quiz at

Youth is loosely correlated with digital adulthood, the survey results showed, in that digital sophistication generally declined with age. However, there were some surprising findings:

  • While most people have entered the digital world, participation falls off sharply as complexity increases. For example, 93 percent of respondents have a digital camera, but less than a third use digital photo-sharing tools. Similarly, 92 percent of respondents have a cell phone, but only 22 percent have used an internet-based phone service such as Skype.
  • More surprising was that the most adult group, digitally speaking, is not twentysomethings but thirtysomethings. While twentysomethings took first place with entertainment – from watching television online to social networking – thirtysomethings are more likely to use advanced photo and video technologies, use career networking services, and manage their finances online.

When it comes to banking and managing finances online, responses followed a similar pattern. While more than 80 percent of respondents pay bills and transfer money between accounts online, only 38 percent have gone beyond banking to manage a 401K or IRA online. Less than a third buy and sell stocks or manage investments online, and just 16 percent use an online budgeting tool. Fewer than half have obtained a free credit report online.

While relatively few people are using advanced online financial management tools, in general survey respondents were committed to managing their finances. Agreement with the statement “I’m always on top of my finances and always make time to manage my finances” ranged from 56 percent of twentysomethings to 76 percent in the 70 years of age-plus group.

“There’s so much in the news about social networking but it’s interesting that just 10 percent of respondents said they make social networking a high priority, compared to 65 percent of those who make their finances a high priority,” said Stephanie Smith, senior vice president, Online Sales and Marketing, Wells Fargo & Company. “Wells Fargo pioneered online banking and we are committed to helping our customers manage their finances online to support the achievement of their personal goals. I’d love to see all of our customers try one new digital financial management tool in 2010.”

Wells Fargo’s “What’s Your Digital Age” quiz is available at

About Wells Fargo Online & Mobile Banking
Wells Fargo is a leading provider of online and mobile financial services for individual consumers, small and middle market businesses, and large corporations with a full range of banking, money movement, investing, asset management, and other financial and risk management products. Wells Fargo launched its personal computer banking service in 1989 and was the first bank to offer Internet banking through in May 1995. Wells Fargo has been named the No. 1 Consumer Internet Bank in North America by Global Finance magazine (November 2009), earned an “A” grade from ABI Research for Wells Fargo Mobile (September 2009); ranked the No. 1 website out of 68 leading U.S. corporations' websites for technology innovation by the Brookings Institution (July 2009) and was awarded two Monarch Innovation Awards by Barlow Research for online services for small business, including Foreign Exchange Online and My Spending Report with Budget Watch (February 2009).

Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $1.2 trillion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through more than 10,000 stores and 12,000 ATMs and the internet ( across North America and internationally.