Measuring the World's Digital Natives

Michael Best

We offer a ?rst attempt to measure the global digital native population with a model for calculating the number of digital natives in each country of the world. We have calculated the size of the digital native population by country, by region and by income level and have related the presence of digital natives to education and literacy levels, and ultimately to policy-making. According to the model, in 2012 there were around 363 million digital natives out of a world population of around 7 billion – or 5.2 per cent. De?ning “youth” as young people aged 15 to 24, this means that 30 per cent of the world's youth have been active online for at least ?ve years. While it follows that fewer than a third of the world's young people today are digital natives, this group nonetheless plays an important role: ?rst, because where the online population is concerned, youth are clearly overrepresented, and second, because digital natives are key drivers when it comes to ICT uptake, innovation and impact.

Michael L. Best

The lab's research focuses on information and communication technologies for social, economic, and political development. In particular the lab studies mobile phones, the internet, and internet-enabled services and their design, impact, and importance within low-income countries of Africa and Asia. The lab researches engineering, public policy, hci/usability, and sustainability issues as well as methods to assess and evaluate social, economic, and political development outcomes. They are also interested in the impact of information and communication technologies on the development-security nexus and in post-conflict peace and reconciliation.