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BizReport : Internet : October 04, 2011

Study reveals differences between online lives of Chinese and US teens

A new study by Stanford University delves into differences between the digital lives of high-schoolers from America and China and suggests the emergence among teen netizens of a new "digital tribe".

by Helen Leggatt

The survey of 71 teens selected from high schools in the US's hi-tech capital Silicon Valley (44) and China's capital Beijing (27) found that all spent a large portion of their lives online.

The American teens were found to be the heaviest users spending significantly more time on almost all online activities compared to their Chinese counterparts.

There were similarities between the two groups as to how they used the Internet. Both cited homework as the top online activity on weekdays, followed by social networking and downloading or listening to music.

The Beijing students' behavior differs slightly to the Silicon Valley teens' come the weekend. While the main activity of the US students switches to social networking, for Chinese teens homework remains the leading activity.

It's this academic pressure that drives what is perhaps the biggest difference in online behavior between the two groups. In Beijing, the vast majority (90%) of teens said they have befriended people they only know online compared with just 29% in Silicon Valley.

"China's post-'90s single-child generation faces limited play time and heavy academic pressures. The Internet enables teens to live out a whole other life online," said Duncan Clark, chairman of consulting firm BDA China.

Ultimately, it's not just teens in tech hotspots that will fuel the emergence of what the study dubs "a "digital tribe" of teens transcending cultures and geographic borders". Technology is getting into the hands, and ultimately the lives, of younger and younger users.

Earlier this year a survey from Parenting Group, the publisher of Parenting, Babytalk, and the BlogHer network found that children as young as 2 years old were getting their hands on their parents' technology.

Almost 3 in 10 Gen X moms had allowed their 2 years olds to use their laptop, rising to 34% among Gen Y moms. Similarly, 33% of Gen Y moms had allowed their children to use their smartphone by age 2 compared with just 20% of Gen X moms.

Tags: China, Internet trends, Internet use, online behavior, social network, survey, teens, US

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