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Youth comparison study - Hong Kong, Shanghai and U.S.

By Murray Bourne, 04 Feb 2009

A Harris Interactive survey, Key Insights on Youth in Shanghai, Hong Kong and the U.S. Revealed in Comparison Study, showed some interesting differences between Chinese and U.S. youth.

The survey is based on the views and experiences of volunteers only, so is not all that representative, but interesting nonetheless.

Nearly all Shanghai (94%) and Hong Kong (91%) 15-21 year olds say they spent time instant messaging yesterday, while only six in ten (59%) U.S. 15-21 year olds did the same. Nearly nine in ten (88%) Shanghai 15-21 year olds and two-thirds (66%) of Hong Kong youth the same age spent time text messaging yesterday, compared to only half (51%) of U.S. 15-21 year olds. Playing massively multi-player online games (MMO's) is more popular among Chinese than U.S. teens and young adults, with six in ten (64%) Shanghai and nearly half (46%) of Hong Kong 15-21 year olds spending time playing these games. Only two in ten (22%) U.S. teens and young adults the same age do the same.

Here it is in graphical form:

Spent Time Instant Messaging Yesterday

Shanghai: 94%
Hong Kong: 91%
U.S: 59%

Spent Time Text Messaging Yesterday

Shanghai: 88%
Hong Kong: 66%
U.S: 51%

Spend Time Playing Massively Multi-player Online Games

Shanghai: 64%
Hong Kong: 46%
U.S: 22%

The U.S. figures are quite a bit lower than I expected. A key factor could be the costs involved with these activities. Asians love texting, but it is quite cheap compared to the U.S.

Also, there is the stereotype that Asian kids stick their noses in books all day, but the above suggests they also make sure they have fun and communicate with friends.

More Traditional Media

When it comes to TV and print media, there are also quite marked differences.

"More than two-thirds (68%) of U.S. 15-21 year olds say they watched television yesterday, compared to 19 percent of Hong Kong teens and young adults, and only 15 percent of Shanghai youth. On the other hand, Shanghai and Hong Kong youth are more reliant on print media than U.S. youth. Eighty-one percent of Shanghai and 65 percent Hong Kong 15-21 year olds read a magazine, compared to only two in ten U.S. youth.

Putting that in a form that can be digested, we have:

Watched Television Yesterday

Shanghai: 68%
HKG: 19%


Read a Magazine Yesterday

Shanghai: 81%
Hong Kong: 65%

This is very surprising. Only 15% of American kids watched television? How different this is from the 50s and 60s, when teenagers were glued to the box.

There are other interesting insights in the report, like:

Becoming a millionaire tops the list of aspirational goals that 15-21 year olds in all three countries strive for, especially U.S. teens and young adults (56% U.S., 28% Shanghai, 39% Hong Kong).

See the full article at: Key Insights on Youth in Shanghai, Hong Kong and the U.S. Revealed in Comparison Study (2007).

See the 2 Comments below.

2 Comments on “Youth comparison study - Hong Kong, Shanghai and U.S.”

  1. Alan Cooper says:

    Hi Zac,
    With regard to television, sadly (for Americans) it is just the graph that is mislabeled. The text still leaves them as glued to the TV as ever.

  2. MariaD says:

    My first thought was to compare the length of school day and homework, but it did not shed any light on anything. All three busy nations keep their kids' school+homework days at a few hours longer than average parent workdays, my guess is to free up parents.

    My next guess would be that the US's schools strict prohibitions on technology and even print media use plays a role here. I do not know the data for the other two countries, but US schools don't really allow students to stay wired during school hours.

    I would also be interested in data on public vs. private vs. homeschool students in the USA.

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