Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Only 30% of Young People Are Online-Savvy ; Study Shows Large Gap between Rich and Poor Countries on Internet Use

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Only 30% of Young People Are Online-Savvy ; Study Shows Large Gap between Rich and Poor Countries on Internet Use

Article excerpt

A study has found that only 30 percent of people ages 15 to 24 have spent at least five years actively using the Internet, the criteria used to identify digital nativism.

Everyone knows young people these days are born with smartphones in hand and will stay glued to the Internet from that time onward. Right?

Well, not quite. Actually, less than one-third of young people around the world are "digital natives," according to a report published Monday and billed as the first comprehensive global look at the phenomenon.

The study, conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the International Telecommunication Union, shows that only 30 percent of people ages 15 to 24 have spent at least five years actively using the Internet, the criteria used to identify digital nativism.

More than 90 percent of young people in many developed countries are digital natives, with South Korea leading the way at 99.6 percent. But many developing countries lag far behind -- all the way down to the Pacific island of Timor-Leste, where a mere 0.6 percent of 15-to-24-year-olds are digital natives.

The digital divide is nothing new, of course. But the study identifies an interesting new twist on the phenomenon. It shows that in the developed world, there is hardly any generational gap anymore between Internet users. Most people in wealthy countries are online - - more than 84 percent of the total adult population in South Korea, for example.

Yet there is a very real generation gap in many developing countries. In countries like Burundi, Eritrea and Timor-Leste, young people are nearly three times more likely to be Internet users than the overall adult population. In many other African, Asian and Latin American countries, the divide between digital natives and the rest is also far more significant than in the developed world.

Michael Best, a Georgia Tech professor who coordinated the study, said the findings highlighted a paradox about the concept of digital natives, a term that is often bandied about for marketing purposes in the developed world. The supposed distinction between always-on members of the millennial generation and their older counterparts is actually much less pronounced than elsewhere in the world. …

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