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China's Online Youth Lead US Counterparts in Digital Self-Expression


Geeks undercover?

Millions of young Chinese are embracing the internet as a discreet space for their thoughts and emotions.

Almost five times as many Chinese as Americans surveyed said they have a parallel life online (61 percent vs. 13 percent), according to a survey of Chinese and American youth released today by IAC and JWT, reports MarketingCharts.

Fewer than half of the 1,079 American respondents agreed that "I live some of my life online" (42 percent), while a sizable majority of the 1,104 Chinese respondents agreed with the statement (86 percent). The two random online surveys polled 16- to 25-year-olds.

The Young Digital Mavens study explores how attitudes toward digital technology are changing among Chinese and American youth as people spend less time with traditional media and more with interactive technology.

China's ballooning online population, estimated at 137 million, is now second only to that of the US (165-210 million Americans, according to a July 2007 report from the Pew internet & American Life Project).

The study found a large majority of youth in each country feels dependent on digital technology, but that attitude is especially pronounced in China:

  • As many as 80 percent of Chinese respondents agreed that "Digital technology is an essential part of how I live," compared with 68 percent of Americans.
  • The internet is such a vital part of life for Chinese youth that they are twice as likely as young Americans to say they would not feel OK going without internet access for more than a day (25 percent vs. 12 percent).
  • And more than twice as many Chinese youth admitted they sometimes feel "addicted" to living online: 42 percent vs. 18 percent of Americans.

"The Chinese people seem to be way ahead of Americans in living a digital life," said IAC Chairman and CEO Barry Diller in Beijing, where he spoke to more than 350 Chinese students at Peking University.

"More activity online means a more connected and a more evolved workforce - just what China needs as it makes its move from being the workshop of the world, to a developed economy in its own right."

A host of additional findings from the study are available at MarketingCharts.

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