Nearly half of children do not know who invented the telephone, whilst one in six believe the internet came before the flushing toilet


Despite the growing use of smartphones amongst children, four out of 10 aged seven – 11 do not know that Alexander Graham Bell was the inventor of the original telephone, according to new research from BT.


Modern tech-obsessed youngsters lack knowledge of the past – BT study reveals

44 per cent do not know what a telegram is

Despite the growing use of smartphones amongst children, four out of 10 aged seven – 11 do not know that Alexander Graham Bell was the inventor of the original telephone, according to new research from BT.

The youngsters do, however, have high expectations of mobile technology. Nearly a third (28 per cent) say 3D imagery is the ‘next big thing’ for phones, while 14 per cent believe the smartphone of the future will be able to store and send smells.

In a survey which marked the launch of BT’s 7th Network, an online hub sharing ideas, information and insights on the future of information and communications technology, BT quizzed 1,000 seven to 11-year-olds on their knowledge of technology history, revealing a stark knowledge gap.

Nearly a third (28 per cent) do not recognise an original 1870s’ telephone, while almost half (44 per cent) do not know what a telegram is.

Additionally, 16 per cent mistakenly believes that the internet and the mobile phone pre-date the telegram and flushing toilet.

Looking to the future, more than a third (35 per cent) hope that their computers will soon be able to clean their bedrooms – and a quarter want their PCs to complete their homework for them.

Other predictions include:

  • Nearly a third (31 per cent) believe smartphones will soon be waterproof
  • One in five (20 per cent) think laptops will be extinct within 10 years
  • 15 per cent say robots will be the next big tech trend, while one in 10 believe driverless or flying cars will come first
  • 18 per cent predict PCs will become small wearable devices implanted under the skin

Sandeep Raithatha, Head of Innovation Central at BT, says: “The children we have spoken to have some amazing ideas for the next generation of communications technology. If their predictions are correct we could see a huge change in the way we live and interact within the next few decades.”

He continues:“However, it is surprising that the digital age has led to a knowledge gap, with the innovators of tomorrow having less understanding of where today’s developments have originated. At BT, we want to encourage inspiring minds, which is why we are Lead Principal Sponsor of the Information Age gallery at the Science Museum. As a resource for commemorating our technology and communications heritage, and one of the most popular galleries, Information Age is a great place for children to learn about the impact of communications technology on all our lives.”

The Information Age gallery at the Science Museum was opened in October 2014 by Her Majesty the Queen, who sent her first Tweet to mark its opening. The tweet, which read “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R” was then beamed on theBT Tower Infoband. The gallery celebrates the innovations in technology and communications which have helped to transform and shape the world over the past 200 years.

BT, Lead Principal Sponsor of the gallery, has donated over 80 objects to the Information Age gallery, and is one of the world’s leading communications companies.

The 7th Network builds on the six networks of communications as displayed within the Information Age gallery. The website can be viewed here: www.btplc.com/innovation/7thNetwork


Information Age is a free gallery in London’s Science Museum. More information is available here: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/informationage

For more information, please contact the press office via btinfoage@porternovelli.co.uk.

Notes to editors:

1,000 children aged 7-11 from across the UK participated in the study. The survey was drafted by BT and the data was outsourced and gathered via One Poll, an online research database which polled the respondents on our behalf. More detailed data points are available upon request.

Enquiries about this news release should be made to the BT Group Newsroom on: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369.

All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.btplc.com/News