The penetration of the Internet may be high in the US, but it is not used nearly as much as in China and the Middle East. Essentially, Americans presence online does not affect personal activity and productivity as much as expected.
According to a research study by TNS, “people who have on-line access have digital sources as their number one media channel. 61% of online users use the internet daily against 54% for TV, 36% for Radio and 32% for Newspapers.” Rumors of the death of newspapers may have begun to come true.
Online consumers in rapid growth markets have overtaken mature markets in terms of engaging with digital activities. When looking at behaviour online, rapid growth markets such as Egypt (56%) and China (54%) have much higher levels of digital engagement than mature markets such as Japan (20%), Denmark (25%) or Finland (26%). This is despite mature markets usually having a more advanced internet infrastructure.
Activities such as blogging and social networking are gaining momentum at huge speed in rapid growth markets. The research shows four out of five online users in China (88%) and over half of those in Brazil (51%) have written their own blog or forum entry, compared to only 32% in the US.
The perception that Americans are the most aggressive users of social media and blogs is simply wrong, but that may not be such a bad thing. Blogging and visiting Facebook does not make anyone smarter. As a matter of fact, social networks and amateur blogs may be a path to stupidity.
Blogs, in particular, are not as informative as mainstream online news, education, and hobby sites. Social networks are not much better. More and more people turn to their friends for information. They look to what “news” is shared with them on social networks as legitimate and don’t bother to question their value. Undereducated and biased people trade information with other people like themselves, resulting in a feedback loop of ignorance.
Developing nations may be at the center of the move to the Internet as a means of information exchange, but that is only as good as the information itself is.
Douglas A. McIntyre