South African Mobile Generation - Study on South African Young People on Mobiles

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This exploratory paper is part of a series that examines the role of mobile technology in the lives of adolescents and young people living in developing nations. The current report focuses on South Africa and is based on primary data collected in the previous series of this publication and secondary evidence gathered through a desk review of relevant literature. This report presents, first, in section two, an overview context of South Africa, and her digital landscape; Information and Communication Technology (ICT) development in South Africa has flourished in the past years, particularly with regard to mobile access and use, though continues to lag in computer and stationary Internet ownership and use. Section three investigates the use of mobile technology by South African adolescents and young people. Extensive research identified a number of characteristics unique to the South African digital landscape: most notably, there exists in South Africa a series of persistent digital divides based on socio-economics, geography and language, as well as in ICT ownership, access, and use. Section four investigates popular communication activities used and accessed among South African adolescents and young people. That said, the nation, as a whole, leads in the content as creation and consumption on social networking platforms, namely Mxit and Twitter. With high access and use comes also a need for awareness of global opportunities and risk. Section five of this report discusses also the types of safety risks adolescents and young people are exposed to while using mobiles, including: cyberbullying, sexting, privacy and exposure to sexually explicit images. The final section of the current paper discusses public and private initiatives to increase opportunities for South African citizens to optimally and safely access and use ICTs.


Akshay Sinha, Gerrit Beger

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