About 8 percent of Cambodian young people surveyed in a recent study had no access to television, radio or the internet in the past month, suggesting a reduced chance of obtaining basic public services or of progressing alongside their media-savvy peers.
Drawing on the experiences of 802 adolescents aged between 10 and 19, the report, released by Unicef on Tuesday, surveyed media consumption across 10 provinces from December to January.
The provinces of Ratanakkiri, Preah Sihanouk and Kratie had the highest populations of youths without access to media, while 64 percent of all those without access were female.
“With rapid development and urbanization, marginalized adolescents are at risk of being left behind in terms of development, knowledge and access to services,” the report said.
Large portions of the 8 percent without access had also never attended community events like concerts or sports matches, at 48 percent and 25 percent, respectively. This further limits their social engagement and makes on-the-ground outreach essential to connecting with the group, the report added.
Silas Everett, country representative for The Asia Foundation, which carries out regular population surveys, said media access was vital.
“Anyone who doesn’t have regular access at all to information is going to be at a detriment to participating in an open way in society,” he said.
“The most significant consequence would be perhaps being left behind as there has been the increasing, rapid rise of social media and the role that it has to play in informing youth culture and perspectives on what’s going on in Cambodian society.”
Still, the benefits of media access depend on the format and quality, as television entertainment features a significant amount of violence—especially against women—that research has found corresponds to increased aggression in real life, he said.
According to the Unicef study, television remained the dominant media format among adolescents, a large majority of whom consumed mainly movies and entertainment programs.
The internet was the runner-up, with 13 percent of those surveyed using it daily.
retka@cambodiadaily.com
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