Show us a millennial who hasn’t opened an Internet browser in the last 24 hours, and we’ll show you a photo of Miley Cyrus without her tongue sticking out. These days it seems every young person is perpetually plugged into the Web. But globally, that’s not really the case: Less than one in three young people around the world between age of 15 and 24 has been active on the Internet for at least five years, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the International Telecommunication Union, or ITU, looked at Internet use among young people globally, measuring the proportion of people between the ages of 15 and 24, and then measuring the percentage of “digital natives" -- those who grew up with personal computers -- by country, focusing on populations as a whole with the highest proportion of Internet-savvy millennials.
Not suprisingly, countries with the most young people glued to the Web are where the Internet happens to be relatively more acessible, and also where there are high GDPs. According to the ITU’s Measuring the Information Society 2013 report, 96 percent of American millennials are connected to the Web. South Korea has the top percentage of Internet-active youth at 99.6, while Japan's is 99.5.
The country with the least millennials on the Web is Timor Leste, a Southeast Asian island nation with about 1.1 million residents, one-third of whom live below the international poverty line. Less than 1 percent of young people there are on the Internet.
But when it comes to the proportion of digital natives in terms of each country’s population as a whole, the numbers tell a different story. Iceland topped the list as the country with the highest percentage of its population being Internet-savvy millennials, followed closely by New Zealand and Korea. Malaysia was fourth and the U.S. snagged the sixth spot.
The 10 countries with the lowest proportion of digital natives were all in Africa or Asia. Timor-Leste, Myanmar and Sierra Leone came out on the bottom.
"A country's future will be defined by today's young people and by technology," study co-leader Michael Best said in a Georgia Tech release on Monday. "Countries with a high proportion of young people who are already online are positioned to define and lead the digital age of tomorrow."