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?Philippines: A Digital Lifestyle Capital in the Making

What this data only tells us is that, we are coming quite close globally to a fully represented online world but there is still much room for growth. When we study digital lifestyles, we have to have a good understanding of offline and online behavior and the correlation of both.

Philippines’ Digital Snapshot

PHILIPPINES - According to the Asia Digital Marketing Association (ADMA) and the Internet World statistics, there are over a billion Internet users in the AsiaPacific region, which amounts to over 46% of the total Internet users in the world.

The Philippines, specifically has over 44.2 million users, the second highest ranking in Southeast Asia and the 6 th in the whole of Asia. The population is forecasted to double by 2016, according to Julian Persaud, former Google Managing Director in Southeast Asia.

 

Source: WeAreSocial

The January 2015 “Digital In the Philippines” snapshot of We Are Social counts that among the total Philippine population of 100.8 million (with urbanization at 49%), there are 44.2 million active Internet users. Of these 44.2 million Internet users, 90% have active social media accounts.

In the last four years, Internet access in the Philippines has grown by 500%, the fastest rate in Southeast Asia, but as mentioned in previously, real growth is yet to come but it’s coming by fast.

Leading in numbers

While we’re yet to see the majority of the Philippine population online, enough data supports how addicted the Philippines is to the digital life. According to We Are Social’s Digital Report as of January 2015, the Philippines leads in average “Time Spent on the Internet” through laptop and desktop, and one of the highest via mobile worldwide.

From a global average of 4.4 hours/day, the Filipino spends an average of 6.3 hours/day online via laptop and 3.3 hours/day via mobile.

2015-04-23-1429778846-5385041-DigitalMarketinginthePhilippinesTimeSpentontheInternet.png

Source: WeAreSocial SG

Over 40% of Filipinos own an active social media account, according to the same study. This is larger than that of most technologically advanced countries like South Korea and Japan, whose social media penetration amounts to 30% and 19% respectively.

Capturing social media and smartphone penetration The Philippines was once called the “Selfie Capital of the World” as analyzed by TIME through geographic coordinates with 258 selfietakers

per 100,000 people on Instagram.

Apart from the photo app, the country also leads in social media penetration particularly on Facebook with over 94% of its Internet users using the popular social network, 40% more than users the United States. The Philippines also records the highest figure of total screen time spent in social networking with an astounding 42%.

In a survey conducted by On Device Research mid June 2014, smartphone penetration in the Philippines is growing faster than Indonesia and Vietnam combined. What drives the growth of smartphone penetration is the influx of low priced local smartphone brands such as the Android powered Cherry Mobile, Starmobile, and myPhone, all priced in the -0 range.

Similarly, Asian phone brands Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi have also landed in the Philippines in an aggressive effort to earn double digit market share by the end of the year.

Correlation to the thriving economy and the young population

The strong digital lifestyle of the Filipinos is testament also to the equally strong economy of the country. Despite suffering the worst natural disasters ever recorded, GDP growth rates continue to be in its favor. As the country is cited as “Southeast Asia’s Strong Man” and with a 33% annual growth in number of active mobile social accounts, it is good to see whether the Philippines is fit to for the title “Digital Lifestyle Capital of the World”.

In a report done in 2014 by Tigercub Digital titled “The Perfect Digital Storm: Philippines”, the boost in digital today owes much of its intensity to the “perfect digital storm of increased digital engagement, strong economic growth, and favorable (young and dynamic) demographics”. [2]

Local brands that drive the digital lifestyle

Mobile operators along with local mobile phone brands drive smartphone and mobile Internet penetration in the Philippines. Globe Telecom, the leading network for smartphones covering data traffic of 87,000 terabytes with an increase of 270% year on year (compared to its main competitor, PLDT Group 48,000 terabytes of data with 167% growth) has strongly influenced the digital lifestyle of Filipinos.

With 58% revenue market share, Globe leads the Philippines’ postpaid business. Recently, it has recalibrated its postpaid acquisition strategy to suit and help further drive the country’s digital lifestyle. With the introduction of its new myLifestyle Plan, Globe automatically throws in what used to be its core services, the regular calls and texts, as a basic unlimited service for about , then gives its Filipino users one the option of various data allocations and “lifestyle bundles”.

The digital lifestyle bundles enable more Filipinos to have access to the then paid content and apps such as Spotify, HOOQ, and NBA as add on offers in postpaid plans, whichis quite an innovative strategy we are yet to see in other countries.Subscription to these bundles give unlimited access to the apps mentioned, helping Filipinos not worry about the consumption of their data allocations for services they use on a regular basis and focus more on adding to the growing social media data created in the country.

Defining the Digital Lifestyle

The digital lifestyle is an extension of the way we live today. It is one’s reality powered by apps, sites, and gadgets that compliment one’s physical lifestyle. According to a study done by Aol., BBDO, Insights Now in 2012 titled “Hidden Motivations of Mobile Users”, the industry takes a too superficial view of mobile behavior based on the discrete thing they do with their smart phones. These 7 “mobile moments” is a unique snapshot of the mobile usage landscape: accomplish, socialize, prepare, me time, discover, shop, self expression.

While we may easily be able to identify apps and categorize them among the 7 moments, the study also finds that a certain app/site can also fulfill different needs and fall under different moments. This means that it is not in the most obvious purpose of a frequently visited app or site in which one would be able

define a digital lifestyle or behavior.

For example, just because one would frequent shopping app Zalora, or locally as Lazada, does not make one an online shopping aficionado outright. He or she may simply be browsing, looking for clothing inspiration, or ideas for an outfit to buy in store later on, or he or she may simply be passing time. Therefore, the digital lifestyle is not simply defined by types of apps they download or the sites they visit but the intent.

Digital Behaviors: Content Creators, Contributors/Curators, and Consumers

What is the intent of a user to go online? With content as the online currency, individuals can create, share, curate and collaborate on content. Although while all netizens can create, collaborate, and consume, there is one behavior they greatly identify with. This behavior defines our digital lifestyle.

The 1% Rule

In 2006, a feature was published on the emerging rule of thumb in the Internet with regards to digital behavior. This rule of thumb suggest that for every 100 people online, 1 will create content, 10 will interact (or in this case curate or contribute), and the other 89 will simply consume or view it. This is the trend that has also been noted by various online platforms such as Wikipedia, YouTube, TypePad, and Yahoo. [3]

The Journal of Medical Internet Research released an original publication as well in 2014 on the “1% Rule in Four Digital Health Social Networks” which defines this 1% rule and seeks to explain the participatory patterns and network effects within the Internet. [4]

Content Creators: The Architects of the Internet

As creators are, they make the Internet what it is. Whether they’re app developers, fashion bloggers, YouTube personalities, meme makers, and so on, the Creators favorite word is “upload.

Content Curators/Contributors: The Online Gatekeepers and Editors

Actively sharing, engaging, collaborating on content, the curators and contributors tread the complex and chaotic online world and clean and collect to their taste.

Content Consumers: The Digital Clienteles

Some have branded these individuals as lurkers or spectators, merely viewing, reading, and basically consuming and enjoying the content that was laid out for them. However, this does not mean that they use the least amount of data or spend the least amount of time online. These consumers thrive on new

information, data, and content and love the download.

With a great understanding of the digital behaviors and local brands to drive the “always on” lifestyle plus the dynamic demographic and the status of 2nd best performing economy in Asia next to China as backbone, the numbers in

Philippine digital statistics will only continue to surprise and yes, could just be the “Digital Lifestyle Capital of the World”.

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Teenagers and social networking – it might actually be good for them

Is too much online socialising among teenagers really creating a generation who can't relate face to face? Not according to the evidence, says Clive Thompson

 

Girl texting

Research shows that avid texters tend to spend more time socialising in the real world. Photograph: Alamy

Iask a teenage girl, how often do you text? "250 times a day, or something," she tells me. Shocking! The digital lives of teenagers have become the target of weekly attacks. In a recent essay for the Guardian, the novelist Jonathan Franzen bemoaned online socialising, arguing that it was creating a uniquely shallow and trivial culture, making kids unable to socialise face to face. Then the American comedian Louis CK proclaimed on TV that he wouldn't give his daughters cellphones for fear they wouldn't develop empathy.

There's also the scientist and writer Susan Greenfield's famously apocalyptic warnings: "We could be raising a hedonistic generation who live only in the thrill of the computer-generated moment and are in distinct danger of detaching themselves from what the rest of us would consider the real world."

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As a parent of two boys at primary school, I'm not immune to worry about these issues. And you don't need to be a parent to fret about the effect of all this technology on young people. Newspapers are constantly filled with frightening accounts of pornography addiction and aggression supposedly caused by violent videogames – particularly now, as Grand Theft Auto V hits the shelves. But even when these titillating accounts touch on real concerns, they do not really reflect the great mass of everyday teenage social behaviour: the online chat, the texting, the surfing, and the emergence of a new teenage sphere that is conducted digitally.

That trend is real. Is it, as Franzen and the others fear, turning kids into emoticon-addled zombies, unable to connect, unable to think, form a coherent thought or even make eye contact? Could this be true?

I don't think so. Let's go back to that girl who texts 250 times a day. The truth is, she was an extreme case I cherry-picked to startle you – because when I interviewed her, she was in a group of friends with a much wider range of experiences. Two others said they text only 10 times a day. One was a Facebook refusenik ("I'm all Instagram, pictures of what I'm doing in the city, with my friends. We're visual people"). A few were devotees of Snapchat, the app that lets you send a picture or text that, like a cold-war communiqué, is destroyed after one viewing. One had a phone filled with charmingly goofy emoticons, another disapproved: "I'm a skilled writer," she told me. "People sometimes misunderstand tone, so you have to be precise." As it turns out, the diversity of use in this group of friends is confirmed by research. Fewer than 20% of kids send more than 200 texts a day; 31% send barely 20 or fewer.

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New technologies always provoke generational panic, which usually has more to do with adult fears than with the lives of teenagers. In the 1930s, parents fretted that radio was gaining "an invincible hold of their children". In the 80s, the great danger was the Sony Walkman – producing the teenager who "throbs with orgasmic rhythms", as philosopher Allan Bloom claimed. When you look at today's digital activity, the facts are much more positive than you might expect.

Indeed, social scientists who study young people have found that their digital use can be inventive and even beneficial. This is true not just in terms of their social lives, but their education too. So if you use a ton of social media, do you become unable, or unwilling, to engage in face-to-face contact? The evidence suggests not. Research by Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Centre, a US thinktank, found that the most avid texters are also the kids most likely to spend time with friends in person. One form of socialising doesn't replace the other. It augments it.

"Kids still spend time face to face," Lenhart says. Indeed, as they get older and are given more freedom, they often ease up on social networking. Early on, the web is their "third space", but by the late teens, it's replaced in reaction to greater autonomy.

They have to be on Facebook, to know what's going on among friends and family, but they are ambivalent about it, says Rebecca Eynon, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, who has interviewed about 200 British teenagers over three years. As they gain experience with living online, they begin to adjust their behaviour, wrestling with new communication skills, as they do in the real world.

Parents are wrong to worry that kids don't care about privacy. In fact, they spend hours tweaking Facebook settings or using quick-delete sharing tools, such as Snapchat, to minimise their traces. Or they post a photograph on Instagram, have a pleasant conversation with friends and then delete it so that no traces remain.

This is not to say that kids always use good judgment. Like everyone else, they make mistakes – sometimes serious ones. But working out how to behave online is a new social skill. While there's plenty of drama and messiness online, it is not, for most teens, a cycle of non-stop abuse: a Pew study found only 15% of teens said someone had been mean or cruel to them online in the last 12 months. As wrenching as the worst-case scenarios of bullying are, and as urgently as those need to be addressed, they are not, thankfully, a daily occurrence for most kids. Even sexting may be rarer than expected: Pew found only 4% of teenagers had sent a "sext" and only 15% had received one – less of an epidemic than you would imagine.

But surely all this short-form writing is eroding literacy? Certainly, teachers worry. Pew Centre surveys have found that teachers say that kids use overly casual language and text speak in writing, and don't have as much patience for long, immersive reading and complex arguments. Yet studies of first-year college papers suggest these anxieties may be partly based on misguided nostalgia. When Stanford University scholar Andrea Lunsford gathered data on the rates of errors in "freshman composition" papers going back to 1917, she found that they were virtually identical to today.

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But even as error rates stayed stable, student essays have blossomed in size and complexity. They are now اگر ادامه بدين توقيف ميشين times longer and, unlike older "what I did this summer" essays, they offer arguments buttressed by evidence. Why? Computers have vastly increased the ability of students to gather information, sample different points of view and write more fluidly.

When the linguist Naomi Baron studied students' instant messaging even there she found surprisingly rare usage of short forms such as "u" for "you", and as students got older, they began to write in more grammatical sentences. That is because it confers status: they want to seem more adult, and they know how adults are expected to write. "If you want to look serious," as the teenage Sydney told me, "you don't use 'u'." Clearly, teaching teens formal writing is still crucial, but texting probably isn't destroying their ability to learn it.

It is probably true that fewer kids are heavy readers compared with two generations ago, when cheap paperbacks spiked rates of reading. But even back then, as the literacy expert Wendy Griswold says, a minority of people – perhaps 20% – were lifelong heavy readers, and it was cable TV, not the internet, that struck a blow at that culture in the 80s. Griswold still finds that 15% or more of kids are deeply bookish. "The ambitious kids. I see no reason that says that it's going to change."

In fact, the online world offers kids remarkable opportunities to become literate and creative because young people can now publish ideas not just to their friends, but to the world. And it turns out that when they write for strangers, their sense of "authentic audience" makes them work harder, push themselves further, and create powerful new communicative forms.

Consider Sam McPherson. At 13, he became obsessed with the television show Lost and began to contribute to a fan-run wiki. "I jumped in and just started editing," Sam says. He developed skills in cooperating with far-flung strangers and keeping a cool head while mediating arguments.

This type of interaction online with strangers can make kids more community-minded. Joseph Kahne, a professor of education at Mills College in California, studied 400 teenagers over three years. Kahne found that teens who participated in fan or hobby sites were more likely than other kids to do real-world volunteering. Interestingly, this wasn't true of being on Facebook.

Indeed, you could argue that parents should encourage their kids to spend less time on Facebook and more on sites devoted to their obsessions. Take Tavi Gevinson, a 17-year-old student who founded and edits Rookie, a site that features articles by and for young women. She says online socialising is "the opposite of isolation – it's all about connection. I've made some of my closest friends online, through blogging communities."

Teachers who understand this insight have begun to transform their classrooms. One day I visited the class of Lou Lahana, a computer teacher at a school in a low-income area. I met one student who was frequently in trouble, with a bad truancy record and rock-bottom grades – a classic drop-out risk. But in Lahana's class, he had discovered a talent using 3D SketchUp software. The student began to produce gorgeous renderings of famous buildings, which Lahana posted online for the world to see.

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"I could be an architect," he told me, as I watched him sketch a version of New York's Guggenheim Museum on screen. "This is the first thing I've seen where I thought, OK, I get this, I love this – I could do this."

Few would deny that too much time online can be harmful. As Louis CK points out, some of the dangers are emotional: hurting someone from a distance is not the same as hurting them face to face. If we're lucky, the legal environment will change to make teenagers' online lives less likely to haunt them later on. Just last week, California passed a law allowing minors to demand that internet firms erase their digital past and the EU has contemplated similar legislation.

Distraction is also a serious issue. When kids flip from chat to music to homework, they are indeed likely to have trouble doing each task well. And studies show that pupils don't check the veracity of information online – "smart searching" is a skill schools need to teach urgently. It's also true, Lenhart points out, that too much social networking and game playing can cut into schoolwork and sleep. This is precisely why parents still need to set firm boundaries around it, as with any other distraction.

But many teenagers recognise this. "Maybe it's a natural part of maturing," one girl says about her reduced use of social networking. "I try not to check Facebook until I've done my homework."

"You do not," laughs her friend. "I've seen you!"

"Well, it's discipline! I'm trying!"

So what's the best way to cope? The same boring old advice that applies to everything in parenting. "Moderation," Lenhart says. Rebecca Eynon argues that it's key to model good behaviour. Parents who stare non-stop at their phones and don't read books are likely to breed kids who will do the same. As ever, we ought to scrutinise our own behaviour.

As for young people, they are perfectly capable of considering the richness, and the contradictions, of their own experience. Tavi Gevinson knows there is a dark side to online life: "That's very sad to me and I wish it weren't true." Yet she sees powerful advantages. "For a lot of people my age, it's not like we meet online and only talk online. The goal is to meet in person and to forge that connection."

As 2019 begins…

… we’re asking readers to make a new year contribution in support of The Guardian’s independent journalism. More people are reading our independent, investigative reporting than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our reporting as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

The Guardian is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important as it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

Please make a new year contribution today to help us deliver the independent journalism the world needs for 2019 and beyond.

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