Students in developing economies lead the way in use of social media

Students in emerging economies have overtaken developed market counterparts when it comes to adopting new technologies.

Fellowship: more and more Asian students are taking their social life online through blogospheres and networking sites.
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Top students in emerging economies have overtaken those in more-established markets when it comes to adopting some of the newest technologies, according to the first global Digital Generation survey. The study, conducted by Career Innovation in partnership with the global student-run organisation AIESEC, found that weblogging is much more common in Asia than elsewhere, with 73 per cent of Asian students, excluding India, writing their own weblogs. It also found that students in the US, western Europe and Australia were much lower users of technologies such as podcasts and mobile e-mail than their peers in less-developed markets.

"In the Europe and US, you can have many opportunities to connect to people, such as travelling," said Youssef Zafri, the president of AIESEC's Morocco chapter. "We don't have many opportunities like that. That's one of the reasons that people are using the internet and other technologies as an easy tool to get what they want." Conducted online, the study surveyed 2,277 "opinion-leading" students from 114 countries between January and June this year, in addition to a comparison sample of 530 professionals in 83 countries.

It found that online and other computer games are played most in India, with 70 per cent of respondents there saying they played them, and least in eastern Europe, with only 49 per cent playing. Indian students also came out on top in the use of multi-person audio conferences, with 56 per cent saying they have used that technology. Only 24 per cent of students from established markets reported using the e-mail functions on their mobile phones.

Globally, social networking was extremely important, with 75 per cent of respondents reporting that they logged on daily to a social or business networking site. Students ranked Facebook as their top choice, while those in the workforce preferred LinkedIn. The results showed that a new generation of young leaders is emerging who will enter the workplace expecting to communicate using social media, said Lucy Symons, the chief communication and networks officer for AIESEC International.

"Social networking is becoming increasingly popular, as is blogging and collaboration online," she said. "Young people are looking for fellowship online." They were also looking for clear, concise forms of communication, she said. The study discovered that four in every five students use instant messaging, while more than half make internet phone calls. The top-ranked brand for instant messaging was Windows Live Messenger, while the top brand for internet phone calls was Skype. Those who e-mail on their mobile phones prefer Nokia products, while those who venture into virtual worlds - 23 per cent - rank Second Life as their top choice. "We are living in a world today, an age of information, where you don't get your information in one place," Ms Symons said. "Young people want to use a variety of communications channels, and they don't want to be broadcast to. They want to be engaged."

khagey@thenational.ae