Economic review

Central China youth behind in web literacy

2017-12-04 11:15:00 (Beijing Time)         China Daily

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Researchers have called for greater efforts to build internet infrastructure in Central China to improve the internet literacy of the region's young people.[Special Coverage]

The competence of using the internet among young people in this part of the country falls behind that of their peers in other areas, according to a survey by Guangming Daily and Beijing Normal University's School of Journalism and Communication, released in June.

More than 7,000 young people from 22 provinces and regions were polled about their behavior while using the internet, including how they manage their attention when surfing, how they search for and make use of information, and how they analyze and evaluate information.

The survey found that respondents from Central China scored lower in the survey than those in the eastern and western regions.

In response, researchers suggested authorities and educators build better internet infrastructure, to make the internet more accessible to young people and improve their internet literacy.

Statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center show that, as of June, China had 751 million internet users. One in five were aged 10 to 19.

The survey found that for young people aged 12 to 18, the internet is integral to their education, entertainment, social lives and self-expression.

However, in contrast, young people's internet competence does not match their frequent usage.

Researchers evaluated each person polled based on their responses in five aspects, including protecting their personal information online, searching the internet, and attitudes toward other users. The average score was only 3.55 points from a maximum five points.

The survey also found that young urban residents of first-or second-tier cities in eastern China with better academic performances at school have comparatively better internet competence than peers.

It also found that a respondent's access to digital devices, relationship with his or her parents, and the frequency with which they talked about the internet with their parents had an impact on internet competence.

"The more digital devices young people can access in their daily lives, and the more young people talk with parents, the better they will be at collecting, using, analyzing and evaluating information on the internet," the report said.

The report suggested that parents control children's internet access, set up family rules for internet usage, and talk with children often to help them to develop good surfing habits.

Zhang Yanqiu, a professor of media research at the Communication University of China, said family plays an increasingly important role in improving young people's internet competence.

"In that sense, parents' internet competence is of equal importance," she said. "This, in addition to how a child's internet competence influences that of parents, could be new angles of research."