For Korean Kids, Mobile Chat Rules

7 mars 2014

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By Jeyup S. Kwaak

The verdict is still out on whether teens and tweens are a reliable predictor of tech trends, but if South Korean school kids make a good benchmark, chat is king.

A recently-released poll by the National Youth Policy Institute, a Seoul-based public research center, shows that the most frequently used feature among students in grades four to 12 on their smartphones was local messenger apps such as KakaoTalk and Line. Over a quarter – one third for girls – said it was their most-used feature.

The overall runner-up in the November survey was games (15.6%), followed by making calls (14.8%) and music (12.8%). Just 6.8% of the 10,000 students surveyed said social media was their most-used application, the same percentage as said  browsing the Internet was what they do most on their phones.

Previous studies have shown that South Koreans spend more time on their smartphones than on their computers. The trend was especially pronounced among young people, with over 60% of those aged 10 to 29 saying that a smartphone was the most essential device in their lives, according to national regulator, Korea Communications Commission.

South Korea is known as an early adopter in tech but hasn’t proven a consistent trendsetter worldwide. Smartphone ownership is among the highest in the world. A study by market researcher Nielsen Company last year showed 86% of South Koreans between ages 16 and 24 had a smartphone.

The smartphone ownership rate for tweens and teens was 81.6% last year, according to the Seoul institute’s study.

“At this rate, this year or next year we’re likely to see the smartphone market [for young South Koreans] to be saturated,

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