Japanese Youth Shun Computers


Or something like that.  My Japanese teacher brought in an article for me to read today about a survey some guy did from Nov˜Dec 2004.  The survey was about cell phone and computer use among elementary school students 4th grade and up through junior high and up to high school sophomores students throughout Japan.  All in all they got responses from about 15000 students.

Some interesting stats:

Percent of students that have a cell phone:

Of those students that have a cell phone percent that send at least one e−mail a day.

Clearly girls use their phones more.  The most interesting ones for me were these though

Percent of students that use the computer to send and receive e−mail by computer:

Percent of students that play games on their computer

Percent of students that study using their computer

The older the get the less they use the computer apparently.

The point of the article then went on to talk about attitudes.  Given the choice of only choosing one of the following answers, as in "which best describes your feelings"

  1. Living would become harder without a cell phone
  2. When I have nothing to do I start using my cell phone
  3. If I get no mail and no calls I start feeling lonely

The author apparently came to the conclusion that people with better grades picked #1 more than people with lower grades and some how he read something into that.  I didn't follow his logic but the whole topic got me thinking.  What are American kids like?  How much do they use the computer vs the cell phone for e−mail?  My impression is e−mail from cell phones never quite caught on in the USA mostly because the cell phone companies sucked at making it easy to use (the last 2 phones I got while visiting the states both had attrocious e−mail text entry interfaces).  It wasn't until recently that blackberry showed that the phone companies screwed up and missed a huge market opportunity but not supporting e−mail effectively.

Another question was does this continue in Japan.  Does computer e−mail use go up past high school or does it decline even further?  My impression is that for non geeks, the general population, especially women in Japan do the majority of their e−mail on their cell phone.  20−30 messages a day.  I know plenty that while they do have access to a PC the vast majority of their mail is on the cell phone.

It also got me thinking about the future.  Clearly cell phones get more powerful everyday.  When might they replace my computer.  Just blue skying here but I can imagine phones that run 20 hours on a single charge, that have those projection keyboards or something else for fast entry, that have some other kinds of display systems like projecting the display in the air in front of you and that have a fast and responsive net connection.  If that was the case most people would not need a PC or a PDA or a notebook anymore and something like that can't really be that far off, 5−10 years?

Back to the author's conclusions which I said I didn't quite follow but I talked to my teacher about this, during my lifetime we went from slide rules to calculators.  I never had to use a slide rule but I just barely escaped that.  By high school calculators were relatively cheap and we were allowed to use them on math tests because the tests were not about the answers, they were about how you solved the problem.  The calculator only helped you verify your answer, it wouldn't give you the answer.  Well, I can imagine a future where your cell phone, with instant and fast access to the net becomes a required part of your school studies.  Where when you take a test the test isn't about if you memorized facts, the test if is you can find information about a topic and write a reasoned opinion on it since the facts for anything will always be at your fingertips.  Fun to imagine. 😊

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