More Than 99 Percent Of Youths In Korea and Japan Are ‘Digital Natives’

A global study has found that South Korea and Japan have the highest percentages of young people who are active on the Internet.

Asian Scientist (Oct. 8, 2013) – A global study has found that more than 99 percent of young people in South Korea and Japan aged 15 to 24 are active on the Internet, the highest percentages of any country in the world, while China has the largest number of these “digital natives”.

According to the study, part of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Measuring the Information Society 2013 report, the country with the least number of youths using the Internet is also in Asia: in Timor Leste, less than 1 percent of young people are actively using the Internet.

The study is the first attempt to measure, by country, the world’s digital natives. The term is typically used to categorize young people born around the time the personal computer was introduced and have spent their lives connected with technology. In the study, a digital native is defined as a youth, aged 15-24, with five years or more experience using the Internet.

According to the report, South Korea (99.6 percent) and Japan (99.5 percent) have the highest proportion of young people who can be classified as digital natives. This is higher than the United States (95.6 percent) and several European countries, including Finland and the Netherlands (both above 98 percent).

But the percentage that Associate Professor Michael Best thinks is the most important is the number of digital natives as compared to a country’s total population.

“That’s because a country’s future will be defined by today’s young people and by technology,” said Best, who co-led the study and, jointly with ITU, developed the model that calculated the worldwide figures. “Countries with a high proportion of young people who are already online are positioned to define and lead the digital age of tomorrow.”

The countries with the highest proportion of digital natives among their population are mostly rich nations, which have high levels of overall Internet penetration. Iceland is at the top of the list with 13.9 percent. New Zealand (13.6 percent) and South Korea (13.5 percent) are second and third, respectively. A big surprise is Malaysia which is ranked 4th at 13.4 percent. The report attributes Malaysia’s high ranking to its strong history of investing in educational technology.

The countries with the smallest estimated proportion of digital natives are Timor-Leste, Myanmar and Sierra Leone. The bottom 10 consists entirely of African or Asian nations, many of which are suffering from conflict and/or have very low Internet availability.

Although digital natives make up only 5.6 percent of China’s total population (ranked 89th in the world), there are more than 75 million digital natives in China, the largest number of any country in the world. The United States is a distant second with around 41 million digital natives.

Overall, there are approximately 363 million digital natives out of a world population of nearly 7 billion (5.2 percent).

The report can be found at: MIS Report 2013.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Hachimaki/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Yew Chung is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore.

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