Indonesia’s claim to having the second-largest number of Facebook users in the world — 30 million accounts as of this year — may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
According to a new study by global market research firm TNS, only 14 percent of Indonesian users access Facebook every day. Compared with an average global figure of 46 percent, Indonesian Facebookers are falling short.
James Fergusson, director of global technology at TNS, said the lower access figures were most likely caused by the fact that many Indonesians depended on Internet cafes and old-model smartphones to get online.
“Discomfort with Internet cafes or first-generation smartphones forces consumers to compromise and decrease the frequency they access social networks,” Fergusson said at the TNS Digital Nation 2011 seminar in Jakarta on Thursday.
He added, however, that Facebook activity was bound to increase soon as more Chinese smartphones entered the market. “Chinese smartphones are very user friendly, they use the Android system and they are sold at a relatively low price,” he said.
He also predicted increasing Facebook access would provide new opportunities for Indonesian businesses and entrepreneurs to market their products and improve services.
The research firm estimated that more than 60 percent of users would eventually use the social networking site to post information about products.
Meanwhile, TNS had some comforting news for all those concerned that the tolerance and mutual respect taught by the state ideology, Pancasila, were being lost. Young Indonesians were found to be more open to mixing with people from other religions compared to their counterparts in other Asia-Pacific countries.
In a study that looked at the influence of the Internet on the behavior of young people, TNS found that 58 percent of Indonesian youngsters said they had close friends from a different religion. This compared to only 32 percent of young people in Asia Pacific who were friends with people with different beliefs.
The study noted that the result did not mean Indonesian teenagers were neglecting religion in their daily lives. The research firm found that 95 percent of young Indonesians consider religion as the most important aspect of their lives.
“Religion plays a very important role in young Indonesians’ lives, but at the same time they are more open to accept differences compared with similarly aged young people in other Asia-Pacific countries,” said Riko Rahman, from TNS Indonesia.
Young Indonesians were also found to place great value on education for improving their future. Despite this, however, more than 30 percent of young people said they were not able to continue their studies after middle school because of money problems.
Irene Ariyani, a senior client adviser at TNS Indonesia, recommended that banks be more active in offering loans to cover education needs.
“Loans for education are important to create achievable higher education, so young Indonesians can realize their potential,” she said.