Mobile Widespread, Social Networking Catching On In Developing World

Cell phones are nearly ubiquitous in the developing world, and social networking is taking off in emerging nations where people have Internet access.
 
While mobile phones are becoming increasingly common, smartphones are still relatively rare. More than half of the population in each nation surveyed says the own a cell phone, with roughly 90% or more in countries like Jordan, China, Russia, Chile and South Africa. The pervasiveness is partly a result of the lack of landline connections.

Those are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center on technology use in 24 developing countries, including China, Russia, Indonesia, and others in Africa and South America.
 
Across the 24 countries studied, a median of only 23% have a working landline phone in their house, with as few as 1% in Ghana and Kenya. They have skipped traditional phones and have moved straight to mobile ones. Smartphones are gaining a foothold, but are still relatively new technology. They are owned by 20% of the populations of 11 emerging countries.
 
When it comes to mobile activities, text messaging is the most common use, with a median of 78% doing so. More than half (54%) take photos and make videos, with people in Latin American countries the most likely to use their phones for this purpose. Less popular uses include getting political news and information, as well as consumer and medical information.
 
Making or receiving payments via mobile is rare except in Africa, where 68% of cell owners in Kenya use their phones for transactions, and half of those in Uganda. Outside of Africa, only 8% do so.
 
In terms of Internet access, the study found that the percentage of people who go online varies widely. In six nations, half or more use the Internet, while 25% or less are online in Indonesia (23%), Uganda (12%) and Pakistan (8%). But when people are connected, they tend to become avid users, going online daily.
 
In particular, they tend to embrace social networking, mainly for staying in touch with family and friends. Sharing views on pop culture is also common, with 73% using sites like Facebook and Twitter to post opinions about music and movies. Beyond that, 43% exchange views on religion, and 38% on politics.
 
Young people are leading the way in Internet adoption. In 14 of the 24 countries, at least half of 18- to 29-year-olds say they’re online. Web access is also correlated with national income, as wealthier countries are more likely to have a higher proportion of Internet users.
 
The main findings of the Pew study are based on a survey conducted among 24,263 people in the 24 emerging nations from March 2 to May 2013. All interviews were conducted face-to-face.
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