Digital Natives Population In Asia: South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore Top Country Rankings

By on October 8, 2013

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)
Digital Natives Global ITU

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
No. Economy Digital Natives
as a % of Total Population
Digital Natives
as a % of Total Youth
Total Digital Natives ITU Rank 2012
1 South Korea 13.5 99.6 6,552,589 3
2 Malaysia 13.4 74.7 3,914,573 4
3 Singapore 12.2 88.4 643,589 12
4 Brunei Darussalam 12.1 73.7 50,049 13
5 Hong Kong 11.6 90.5 833,148 21
6 Macao 10.6 73.7 60,149 30
7 Japan 9.6 99.5 12,200,091 47
8 Viet Nam 8.4 43.6 7,527,242 56
9 Thailand 6.3 42.3 4,387,062 85
10 China 5.6 34.7 75,210,372 89
11 Mongolia 4.1 20.7 117,484 103
12 Pakistan 3.4 16.0 6,143,363 115
13 Philippines 2.8 14.1 2,699,063 124
14 Indonesia 2.4 13.7 5,841,176 132
15 India 1.8 9.5 22,660,059 139
16 Sri Lanka 1.4 9.5 301,853 143
17 Afghanistan 1.0 4.9 335,958 149
18 Laos 1.0 4.2 62,152 151
19 Bangladesh 0.9 4.7 1,423,409 153
20 Nepal 0.8 3.7 238,079 158
21 Cambodia 0.3 1.6 50,145 171
22 Myanmar 0.2 0.9 76,302 179
Source: ITU, 2013






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