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Asia’s Teens Very Mobile

Still more Asian youth go mobile with their communications, says a recent survey.

It’s hard to believe that a mere decade-and-a-half ago, I’d come from school to find a phone message waiting for me. ‘So-and-so called,’ my mother or brother (dad never answered the phone) would yell to me. Sometimes I’d then have to wait in frustration until somebody else in the house was off the phone so the one shared line was free.

How quickly things are changing for teens today as mobile telecommunications become the everyday and commonplace around much of the world.

In Asia, too, more and more young people are gearing up with mobile phones and other such devices, as illustrated in a recent major survey conducted by global market intelligence group Synovate that was released earlier this month.

The Synovate Young Asians study takes an in-depth look into the lifestyles, habits and product and media consumption of youth across Asia. This year, it surveyed 12,302 subjects between the ages of 8 and 24 across the region via both face-to-face interviews and online method. And the markets covered were China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

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So what were some of the key discoveries?

Well, for one, judging by how much cell phone user-ship has increased throughout the region in the past couple of years, Synovate has suggested that ‘the lives of Asia's youth revolve around their mobile phones.’

Results show that 64 percent of Asian youths own a mobile phone, up from 60 percent 2 years ago. Also, ‘Hong Kong jumped from 82 percent to 87 percent of youths owning a mobile, while Singapore went from 80 percent to 85 percent.’

The company suggests that the reasons why youths in these ‘affluent markets’ have such a high rate of cell phone ownership are because ‘family members for this age group…can afford a second, third, or more mobiles for the family,’ cheaper mobile phone plans are available in these regions and, more in a more ideological sense, ‘a mobile phone is a signature of growing up in the world.’

Also, in an attempt to make the connection between the youths’ values and their modes of communication, the survey found that respondents value family as the most important part of their lives, with 83 percent in Asia choosing it as their top priority. Following that was health, with 52 percent and friends, at 39 percent. And it seems that the method that’s the overwhelming choice for Hong Kong’s youth in particular to stay in touch with their valued friends and family (and doctors?), is by phone calls made with their mobile devices.

‘More so than SMS, instant messaging, and social networking…Mobiles keep them connected to life and everyone around them,’ said Susanna Lam, Research Director of Synovate in Hong Kong.