The Georgia Institute of Technology and International Telecommunication Union study was an attempt to measure, by country, the world's "digital natives," a term typically used to categorize young people born around the time the personal computer was introduced and who have spent their lives connected with technology.
While nearly 96 percent of American youth between 15 and 24 -- so called "millennials" -- are digital natives, that figure is behind South Korea (99.6 percent,) Japan (99.5 percent) and several European countries including Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands, the study found.
But more important than just a total percentage is the number of digital natives compared with a country's total population, one researcher said.
"That's because a country's future will be defined by today's young people and by technology," study co-leader Michael Best said in a Georgia Tech release Monday. "Countries with a high proportion of young people who are already online are positioned to define and lead the digital age of tomorrow."
The countries with the highest proportion of digital natives among their population are mostly rich nations with high levels of overall Internet penetration, the study found; Iceland topped that list with 13.9 percent, while the United States was sixth with 13.1 percent.
The bottom 10 consists entirely of African or Asian nations, many of which are suffering from conflict and/or have very low Internet availability, the study found.
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