According to the latest Measuring the Information Society report by ITU, there are 363 million digital natives across the globe, or 5.2 per cent of world population, in 2012. And of the world’s young population, some 30 per cent of them are digital natives.
ITU defines digital natives as “as the population of networked youth – aged 15-24 years – with five or more years of online experience.” This is the first time ITU attempts to quantify the number of digital natives in 180 economies across the globe.
The diagram below shows the distribution of digital natives across the globe, with box sizes representing relative number of digital natives in absolute numbers.
Distribution of Digital Natives Across Countries, 2012 (Source: ITU, 2013)
Iceland has the highest percentage of its total population who are digital natives in the world, at 13.9 per cent in 2012. New Zealand ranked second with 13.6, followed by South Korea (13.5), Malaysia (13.4) and Lithuania (13.2).
Total digital natives as a percentage of total youth gives us some ideas on the pervasiveness of Internet use among the youth (aged between 15 and 24) in each country.
South Korea has the highest percentage of digital natives out of total population and the nation’s youth population in Asia. Although 99.5% of youth in Japan are digital natives, they only make up of only 9.6% of the nation’s population. This is partly due to a relatively aging population.
A high majority of youth in advanced Asian economies – South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore – are digital natives (over 80 per cent of total youth population). Among the developing economies in Asia, Malaysia leads with 75 per cent of its youth who are online savvy.
China has the highest number of digital natives in the world with 75.2 million. In Asia, India comes in second after China with 22.7 million digital natives, followed by Japan with 12.2 million.
In the Southeast Asia region, the digital natives population is 25.3 million. However, there is a total of 94.9 million digital natives in East Asia, which is almost four times larger than Southeast Asia.
|Digital Natives In Selected Asian Economies, 2012|
as a % of Total Population
as a % of Total Youth
|Total Digital Natives||ITU Rank 2012|
Source: ITU, 2013