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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Urban youth embrace IT, but not porn sites

Urban youth embrace IT, but not porn sites

A new research paper has found that the country's urban youth are quickly embracing

Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phone text messaging,

email and the internet.

It also revealed a distinct difference with the West, with sex sites well down the

list of priorities. A snapshot provided by TeleSurf revealed that they ranked at

number 152 of the top 200 sites requested on one day in October.

The research paper, entitled Cambodian Youth Making Connections, suggests that a

new generation is being defined both by its use of and access to the technology.

Author Kelly Hutchinson found that ICTs were key to Cambodia's development, and have

had a significant impact on both the lifestyles and communication of young people.

"The major findings of the study are that these young Cambodians are using ICTs

to define and express themselves as both individuals and members of a distinct new

cohort," Hutchinson said. "The uptake of ICTs highlights the emergence

of digital urban leaders, a digital elite.

"Education combined with ICTs is a chief driving force of this new generation

and may provide the key to Cambodia's development," she said.

The research found that text messaging, or SMS, was used daily by young urban Cambodians,

making it the most commonly used ICT. Next was email, with respondents communicating

that way four to six times a week.

"Cambodia is in line with trends in Asia, with an estimated four million SMSs

sent across the Mobitel network in July alone," the report stated.

The new young urban generation was identified as English speaking, technically literate,

modern, motivated, highly educated, family-minded, increasingly globally conscious

and sociable. The report said they were using ICTs to connect with other young Cambodian

people both here and overseas.

When asked to consider the differences between Cambodians living in Phnom Penh, Kampong

Speu and Long Beach, California - home to many expatriate Khmers - they "expressed

a greater affinity with their compatriots abroad than with their fellow citizens

in the provinces".

Hutchinson said that despite the use of new technology, traditional communication

patterns and topics had not changed.

"They are embracing technology but using it within their usual social and cultural

constructs, adapting it to their preference for communal activity," she said.

"Surprisingly, the conservative nature of young Cambodians is not influenced

by the relative anonymity of ICT forums to explore sensitive issues such as sex or

health."

The findings could have an important impact on future public education campaigns.

It was found that ICTs could be used to communicate with young urban people and help

them access better services, such as learning about the risks of HIV.

"Whether it is commercial, social or personal, the implications of ICTs within

the new generation of young Cambodians are ripe for development," said Hutchinson.

The research was conducted between July and October this year and surveyed 200 young

people aged 18-24 in Phnom Penh. Hutchinson presented the paper in early December

at an ICT conference in Nepal.

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