Comm & Tech in the Netherlands

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Communication technology development in the Netherlands is some of the best in the world. The latest statistics from internetworldstats.com for the Netherlands, December 31, 2014, indicate that the country has an internet penetration rate of 95.5%—the fifth highest in the world.

A 2012 poll conducted by the Office for National Statistics and Eurostat found that the Netherlands had the highest proportion of social network users in Europe, too; with the most visited networks being Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace, respectively. The same survey found that 97% of 16 to 24-year-olds in the Netherlands used social networks—the highest in the European Union.

Starcom Netherlands, a branch of the global media communications agency Starcom Mediavest Group, third-quarter analysis of the company’s 2015 Dutch Media Landscape Report updated the most popular social media sites in the Netherlands to Facebook, YouTube, Google +, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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Access to social media via mobile phones is also on the rise. 80% of the Dutch population uses a smartphone, and the Netherlands has the highest penetration of mobile phone Facebook users in the world (89.3%).

Snapchat is the fastest growing mobile application, especially among the Generation Z population (13-19), with 100 million active daily users. While Instagram is the fastest growing platform as a result of the coveted 18-24 demographic.

The three most popular apps on smartphones in the Netherlands are: WhatsApp Messenger, Facebook, and Google; 12% of phone calls are placed primarily through one of these platforms.

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A startling trend uncovered in the 2015 Starcom Netherlands report found that perhaps communication technology in the Netherlands is too good. Due to the ever-growing popularity of communication via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat, electronic interactions threaten to surpass one-on-one, interpersonal communication as the preferred method for the Dutch to engage with one another.

Shifts toward more antisocial behavior doesn’t stop there. Each year, the Dutch are doing less shopping in brick-and-mortar stores and more shopping online, as virtual retail ventures continue to gain in popularity. Over the last two years, buying/selling, social networking, streaming video, and searching for info online have all increased in the Netherlands.

Similar parallels can be drawn to the degeneration of dialogue in the United States. The smartphone phenomena started there first. Restaurants, parks, city sidewalks, and more, used to be places for people to congregate, exchange ideas, and nurture relationships.

Social but not social

Now, many of us have become socially inept zombies. Shells of people walking around hypnotized by our phones and disconnected from the real-world outside them. Instead of embracing the innumerable sum of uncontrollable variables which arise when meeting a new person, the solace offered by the familiar friends in our pockets becomes too hard to resist.

Hopefully, the Netherlands won’t continue along this dystopian extreme. The ubiquity of smartphones in restaurants, like in the United States, still has not permeated the Dutch culture. Substantive conversations abound with no antisocial devices in sight.

Although internet availability and usage is significantly high in the Netherlands, strong cultural ties remain to abate the technological onslaught.

When traveling to the Netherlands, don’t worry about not being “connected.” Internet is widely available everywhere. Keep in mind, however, that the utilization of mobile devices around friends, guests, or in social situations is generally frowned upon.

People come together in the Netherlands to share experiences, not space.

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