20/05/2015 1:31 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Teens In Smaller Cities Are As Digitally Plugged In As Metro Kids

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A new study on young teens shows that most of them own smartphones, are active on social media, and follow celebrities. In other words, they are busy being teens in a digital world where connectivity is all-important.

The 'Digital Lifestyle of Urban Indian Teens' survey was carried out in 1,739 schools in 14 cities with 12,365 high school students as respondents by Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest software company.

93.2 percent of teens surveyed in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, are on Facebook. That is significantly higher than the average figures for the rest of India. Last year's winner was Ahmedabad and this result shows how the biggest social media site in the world has made inroads deep in India.

Delhi teens lead the way in online shopping — 80 percent of them claim to have shopped online followed by Mumbai and Bhubaneswar.

Survey results show Whatsapp is far more popular than the traditional SMS, with 58 percent of respondents preferring the app. WhatsApp can be easily used on 2G networks, which are still the majority of connections in India, and that seems to have contributed to its popularity.

Boys are much more active online and on social media than girls, the study says, and most of the sites are accessed on desktops than on mobiles. It's the other way worldwide where girls are way more active on social media. One reason for girls using it less is perhaps because in many parts of India boys have greater access to educational tools and gadgets.

The highest number of teens using video chats is in Hyderabad, one of the places with better connectivity in India.

Smartphones are catching up fast in smaller cities, with just five percent higher ownership in metropolitan cities. Samsung, with mobile phone models at every price point, leads the pack, followed by Nokia. Unsurprisingly more expensive gadgets such as those made by Apple are more popular in bigger cities with more brand awareness and higher disposable incomes.

Among social media sites Facebook is by far the most popular with 89 percent of respondents using it, followed by Google Plus (64 percent) and Twitter (44 percent). Most of the respondents still read newspapers and watch TV news channels, which is on expected lines. Unlike markets with deeper broadband penetration such as the United States and Europe, newspapers are still thriving in India. However, Twitter scored the most in Lucknow, where 49 percent of teens have an account, higher than in Delhi or Kochi.

Bollywood and cricket have a huge following in India and that is reflected in who the respondents chose to follow on Twitter. Sports stars, celebrities and movie stars were among the most followed.

More parents in Indore (58.9 percent) exercise control over what their kids are accessing on social media and online sites than in any other surveyed city. Even the highest figure seems low. That means 41.1 percent of parents are not exercising any control over what their kids are watching online.

59 percent of male respondents said they aspire for a career in information technology or engineering. While there are more options now than a decade ago, the top career choice has not changed.

“The need to be constantly aware, always connected and make informed choices is in the basic DNA of the post-millennial students. The TCS Gen-Y Survey findings provide us with essential information to prepare ourselves to provide them with exciting career opportunities," said Ajoy Mukherjee, EVP & Head of Global HR.

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