Are Chinese Students More Web-Savvy Than Their US Peers?

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US and China have often been compared on various parameters what with China’s growing dominance as a global powerhouse. However, despite China’s population it is often difficult to predict their internet usage patterns especially on platforms common to both US and China or any other country for that matter. China for long has had a tradition of putting restrictions on popular global sites and has rather relied on developing similar applications for its own consumption in a closed environment.

Apparently, Standford conducted a small survey to benchmark the digital savviness of Chinese students vis-à-vis students from the Silicon Valley (the place where all cool things web are made). The survey revealed some interesting insights on the usage patterns of both Chinese as well as US students with the major trend being,

Even though US students spend significantly more time using digital media on a daily basis than their peers in China, Chinese students are more likely to embrace the latest internet technologies and are open to build virtual network of friends they haven’t personally met

Wonder if this can be a indication that new digital application/platform developers could look to target Chinese demographic to take on the role of early adopters. I guess not but will get on to the reason later. For now, lets have a look at some more insights that the survey revealed

  • Chinese students have better adoption rates when it comes to iPad. 44% of the surveyed Chinese students had iPad as against 16% of the US students
  • US students tend to spend more time on social networking sites and blogging platforms whereas their Chinese counterparts are heavy on video consumption-watching films and videos over the internet
  • On a typical weekday, the internet usage patterns of both US and Chinese students are similar- both demographics spend their time on internet for schoolwork. However, weekends represent a shift wherein Chinese students continue to rate schoolwork as their top priority followed by social networking and web surfing. US students on the other hand spend the most time on social networking followed by schoolwork and music
  • Texting continues to be the most preferred form of communication among friends by both US and Chinese students
  • Chinese students are big on building virtual networks and around 90% have friends they only through internet. US students on the other hand have only 29% of friends they know purely based on interactions on the internet

Interesting trends these, arent they. But take these with a pinch of salt like I say for all survey based results. The survey sample that Stanford used was very small – 44 students from Palo Alto and 27 from Beijing with the survey respondents being from the 16-18 demographic. Not saying that the survey might not represent a larger sample and might hold true at a broader level but with a small sample like it is often difficult to judge the impact of the results.

Who do you think is more web savvy and plays the early adopter role better – US students or Chinese Students?

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