We may be small, at just 716 sq km, Singapore is undeniably one of the smallest countries in the world. It also boasts one of the highest per capita income and digital infrastructures on the planet.
Photo from: http://infographics.sg
Just a quick glance over Singapore’s digital landscape, the typical netizen spends around an hour every day on social media. We can easily discern the importance of social media today, a medium that undoubtedly dominates most information networks. Some of the most popular social media platforms used include Facebook, Twitter, but close to 4 million users are on YouTube – that’s over 78.6% of the entire population.
You’ve seen it, we’ve done it – smartphones are like a staple in our daily lives. With 70% of the entire population using smartphones, we are truly home to one of the most digitally advanced populations in the world.
So who is at the helm of Internet usage? You’ve guessed it – the young and active (aged 15 -19). An estimated 97% of Singaporeans in this age group are on the Internet almost every day. Netizens spend twice as much time on the Internet than on print or broadcast mediums; be it to get their sporadic movie distraction, to catch up on the latest Korean drama or to get their daily dose of informative news update on world events.
So what does this mean for traditional media? Could this be the end for newspapers and magazines, TV and radio; as information is exchanged faster and is more easily accessible on the Internet?
Perhaps not. In my opinion, the fundamental determining factor is browsing experience and reliability.
Most websites are reliant on an optimally fast-speed broadband service, an advanced browser with the latest plug-ins and a pretty decent, not-too-decrepit computer that assures you an enjoyable and hassle-free browsing experience. But most users don’t have a supercharged broadband service all the time; and more often than not, users face the exasperating episode of a clunky broadband or sluggish browser that falls below their expectations. So this boils down to a technical challenge that the digital domain faces.
Next, despite the speedy and possibly detailed information found on social media networks, such content may not always be reliable. That’s why we have the press- where we rely on accurate and informative facts to make rational decisions. This is important. So where does social media stand on this front?
In a recent study, “Impact of Social Media on News: More Crowd-Checking, Less Fact-Checking”, an obvious conclusion was that social media content has more reduced reliability. 60% of the journalists who participated in the study indicated that they were less obliged to strictly adhere to journalistic rules and more inclined to share their personal insight on a more social media context. About 50% of the journalists also indicated that they trusted consumer generated opinions. Nonetheless, social media is still instrumental in relaying and spreading news.
Bottom line is, we can’t escape social media and for better or worse, it’s becoming more prevalent in the way we disseminate and receive vital information.