Just over 13 percent of Americans are "digital natives," according to a new report from researchers at Georgia Tech and the International Telecommunication Union. If you're not familiar with it, that term describes "young people born around the time the personal computer was introduced and [who] have spent their lives connected with technology." These digital natives have never used typewriters (not out of necessity anyway), and are fuzzy on the difference between the White Pages and the Yellow Pages. Heck, some of them don't even know how to address an envelope. Yet insofar as the Internet is the future, so too are these digital natives.
According to the International Telecommunication Union's report "Measuring the Information Society," the U.S. fares pretty well in the race to have the most tech-savvy young people. Ninety-six percent of American millennials are digital natives (defined by ITU as young people age 15-24), as is roughly 13.1 percent of the overall U.S. population.
But we're not number one. Digital natives represent a higher proportion of the populations in Iceland, New Zealand, South Korea, Lithuania, and Malaysia; whereas in Iceland, South Korea, Latvia, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, and the Netherlands, digital natives make up an even higher percentage of the millennial populations (South Korea is the highest, with 99.6 percent of people age15-24 having used the Internet regularly for the last five years.)
As one might expect, the number of digital natives in a country correlates with that country's wealth. Per the ITU's map, which shows digital natives as a percentage of total population, richer countries have more tech-savvy teens, and poorer countries have fewer.
The big exception? Malaysia, where "initiatives to reduce broadband access costs are an integral part of the country’s National Broadband Initiative." Those initiatives include subsidizing smart phone purchases for low-income residents and "the 1 Million Netbooks programme, under which netbooks are distributed to low-income households so as to enable them to access broadband services."