Churchill Identifies Disappearing Skills

11th January 2013

Writing thank you notes, using a dictionary and mental arithmetic are among the fastest disappearing skills in modern Britain thanks to technology.

The internet is also helping to kill off activities from being able to read a map to putting together a physical photo album full of memories, according to research from Churchill insurance.

While other once typical British habits from sending postcards from holiday or even gathering round to watch TV as a family have also been lost to progress, said the study.

The Churchill study of 1,000 adults found 67 per cent thought the ability to hand write a thank you card had died out, replaced by emails and texts.

Websites like Wikipedia have taken over the need to look at a proper encyclopedia, dictionary or other reference book, according to 61 per cent of those questioned.

While ereaders have helped end the once popular tradition of going to the library to borrow a book, say 58 per cent.

More than half (53 per cent) blame the internet for the demise of flicking through a phone book for a number and the same number think computer games have killed off board games.

Almost four in ten believe the ability to do mental arithmetic has also suffered as most people use a calculator on their phone or computer screen instead of working it out themselves.

"Of course, the internet has provided more than its fair share of benefits too", said Matt Owen at Churchill, "as it has made shopping and services - such as insurance - much easier to arrange."

But it has led to some aspects of day to day life changing from one generation to the next, said the study. For instance, communicating via social media or on Blackberry means few friends ring each other up for a gossip any more, said the study. Online dating means it is rarer to organise blind dates for friends and online gambling means fewer experience the atmosphere of a betting shop these days.

Nearly eight in ten (79 per cent) believe the internet has led to the death of many traditional activities, with this figure rising to 85 per cent of those aged 60 and over.

Matt Owen continues: "Technology is a wonderful thing but it means there are generations growing up who will never experience some activities that could be useful or even fun. Being able to read a map or do quick sums in your head were always skills passed down but satnav and computers mean these are no longer learnt instinctively. Handwritten thank you cards are still nicer than an impersonal email and a good old gossip on the phone must be better than the odd exchange via text or Facebook."

"As for playground activities and board games - it would be a shame if these were to be lost from Britain forever."

*Activities dying out because of technology...

  • Writing thank you cards - 67 per cent
  • Using encyclopedias/dictionaries - 61 per cent
  • Going to the library - 58 per cent
  • Using a phone directory - 53 per cent
  • Playing board games - 53 per cent
  • Sending postcards - 50 per cent
  • Reading a map - 47 per cent
  • Making photo albums - 43 per cent
  • Mental arithmetic - 39 per cent
  • Phoning friends for a chat - 36 per cent
  • Playground games - 36 per cent
  • Watching TV as a family - 28 per cent
  • Buying stamps - 23 per cent
  • Cooking from recipe book - 22 per cent
  • Going to betting shop - 17 per cent
  • Blind dates with friends of friends - 14 per cent

For further information, please contact:

Matt Owen
Churchill Press Office
Tel: 020 8285 8795


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK’s leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200300 or visiting