The Center for the Digital Future has released the results their international survey of 25,000 people in Asia, Australia, North and South America and Europe on Internet usage.
Among 18-24 year olds, the top countries with Internet usage:
- 100% of British youth
- 98% of Israeli
- Czech Republic and Macao at 96%
- Canada at 95%
By contrast, only 88% of American teens of the same age had access, trailed by Hungary and Singapore, where more than seven in 10 young people use the Internet.
The big takeaway? According to the study:
"Fewer young Americans have Internet access than their peers in the Czech Republic, Canada, Macao and Britain, a survey of 13 countries around the world showed."
While we talk a lot about youth being wired and connected to technology, the reality is that there are also a lot of teens who can't afford computers, mobile phones/devices or Internet access.
For the last five years I've volunteered with a youth organization in San Diego. We've maintained a website, blog, Flickr and Facebook page for the last four years. At a recent awards dinner for the teens, one of the leaders mentioned that they would post the photos from the dinner on Flickr and our website. One of the kids raised his hand and asked, "What if we don't have a computer?"
During a quick survey of the 100 youth attending the banquet, we were shocked to find that only a couple had mobile phones, even less had access to a computer and/or Internet access at home. And while they had access at school, most reported that school computers blocked and filtered so much content, it made it an exercise in frustration.
We had been working on the assumption that because they are teens, they are "wired." The reality is, while they wanted to be totally wired, their economic status prevented them from fully participating in the information and social web revolution.
While I was at Yahoo! working on the youth and education project, I had the opportunity to collaborate with school districts both large and small. Time and time again, I heard from school administrators that their students (and many teachers for that matter) didn't have access to a computer and/or web access from home.
So while we talk about all the really great ways that technology can support learning, get youth involved in the political process or how Gen Y is totally wired, it's important to remember that there are still big chunks of this generation who are unable to participate in the shared experiences taking place in Facebook, MySpace and other virtual environments.
In terms of the digital divide, we've made leaps and bounds, but there's still a long way to go.