Young Chinese 'addicted' to the web

Young Chinese 'addicted' to the web

Online life 'more intense than reality' for many

Nearly two-thirds of young Chinese people have a "parallel online life", according to a new survey.

Research conducted for advertising firm JWT and investment company IAC suggests that up to 80 per cent of young Chinese people see the internet as an "essential" part of their lives.

Online life is often more intense than reality, according to almost half of the 1,100 Chinese aged 16 to 25 questioned in the online survey. More than half also said that they have hidden behind a fake persona online.

This apparent obsession with the internet could have advantages, according to statements by IAC chairman Barry Diller.

"The Chinese people seem to be way ahead of Americans in living a digital life," Diller told Chinese students in a speech last week.

"More activity online means a more connected and a more evolved workforce - just what China needs as it moves from being the workshop of the world to a developed economy in its own right."

A similar survey in the US seemed to show a more even balance between the online and offline worlds, according to JWT.

For example, 42 per cent of Chinese youths admitted to feelings of addiction to the internet, compared to only 18 per cent of Americans.

And 32 per cent of young Chinese claimed that the internet had broadened their sex lives, compared to 11 per cent of their US counterparts.

"China's speedy evolution in its use of the internet is fast eclipsing that of the US. I think this is great for China, and not so great for us," added Diller.

IAC also announced plans to increase investment in China. The firm paid $110m in 2005 to take control of Chinese travel portal eLong, only to see the company beaten into second place by local giant Ctrip in the market for online ticket and hotel bookings in China.