Much of worldwide youth not considered digital natives

by. Jeff Falk

Despite popular belief, not all of today’s youth are attached at the hip to the Internet. In fact, a new Georgia Institute of Technology and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) study found only 30 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 worldwide are “digital natives.” The report defines digital natives as individuals who have spent at least five years actively using the Internet.

Not surprisingly, the report showed much higher numbers of digital natives residing in developed countries.

According to the report, South Korea has the greatest population of young people considered to be digital natives, with 99.6 percent. Japanese youth came in second at 99.5 percent. A number of European countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland, reported higher numbers than American millennials, who came in at 96 percent. The numbers decrease to less than 1 percent for developing countries, such as the Pacific island of Timor-Leste.

In a press release, Georgia Tech Associate Professor Michael Best indicated the number of digital natives in each country compared to that country’s overall population is the most significant data from the study.

“That’s because a country’s future will be defined by today’s young people and by technology,” said Best. He added, “Countries with a high proportion of young people who are already online are positioned to define and lead the digital age of tomorrow.”

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