Consumption and Digital Divide

by 12:51 PM 2 comments
Source of Image: http://www.kingwealth.com/
 
こんにちは みなさん!
(Konnichiwa Minasan!) 


Have you ever woken up one day from bed, and realized that we are actually living in a place that is full of media penetration?!


It's true. Listed from old medias such as books, newspapers, and radio to new medias such as television, smartphones, and tablets along with internet accesses, our life is basically infiltrated with information and technology. However, with the emergence and spread of ICT since the mid-1990s, it has become a worrisome matter lingering around in the mind of policy makers and social scientists as a new phenomenon occurs, namely "digital divide". Digital divide, according to OECD (2001, p. 5), means 


http://www.powerfulinformation.org/ 


...the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socio-economic levels with regard both to their opportunities to access ICTs and to their use of the Internet for a wide variety of activities.


However, the working paper by Paul DiMaggio and Eszter Hargittai (2001) proposed a different opinion as they noted that there has been a change of trend among researchers such as scholars like Benton, Hoffman and Novak focus on ICTs have moved from its unequal distribution among individuals and societies to inequalities among the ICTs consumption of people; investigating inequalities in terms of their ethnicity, education level, income and other resources. In turn, the digital divides of "haves" and "have-nots" have been reduced to the differing degrees of internet access availability for each individual. 


Source of Image: https://cio.gov/

Therefore, we have conducted a similar survey to investigate the ownership of new media and online media consumption pattern. A simple questionnaire consisting of 30 questions have been designed using the Google form (click to access our questionnaire). The questionnaires were distributed to 20 respondents within an age range of 20 to 25 years old. These respondents were selected as they are the generation of youth that has been tagged with the labels of "Net-generation" and "The Millennium Generation" or at times, even regarded as "digital natives" which indicates that they have established a firm relationship with technological gadgets and would provide much better understandings on the various technology consumption (Prensky as cited in Mesch, 2009).

And drum rolls please, as our mini research revealed that all of our respondents are all "haves", that is they are the proud owners of at least one new media. Moreover, the sole digital divide that we thought to have existed between students living in university campus and students living outside campus was also non-existent as while students on campus have a better chance to surf the internet using the university-provided WiFi, all 60% of respondents living outside campus are also reported having some form of internet connection such as mobile data or broadband.   

Henceforth, we diverted our attention from "digital divides" to "digital inequality" focusing on technical means and use patterns. But, digital inequality, in general, can be described in 5 dimensions which include the autonomy of Internet use, technical means (hardware and connections), skills, social support and the purposes people use technology as proposed by DiMaggio and Hargittai (2001).


A consequence of modernization, digital gadgets have become the most important accessory for many, especially the youth. From our simple survey, all respondents are owners of smartphone and laptop/netbook while  two of them reported having another regular phone and a mp3 player respectively. Once again, these results show that there is no digital divide among the students as the youth nowadays, especially the students ownership of new media is not limited to one. But, there is an inequality present as 30% reported using Apple brand which is slightly more expensive than other brands of Asus or Sony with its minimum purchase being >RM1000.
For a clearer picture, you can refer to the two diagrams above which displays inequality in terms of 2 technical means: (1) the brands of the gadgets and (2) their spending on Internet connection per month. What should be highlighted is that all of the respondents despite having access to WiFi in the university campus still spend money on internet connection, with 15% reporting monthly spending of RM 90-RM 120.


Another digital inequality that cuts across the youth nowadays in the case of Internet access is the consumption pattern of the internet. This inequality can be observed in terms of gender as shown in the table above. Highlighting the odd and the weird, did you guys noticed that there is not much difference between the male and female use of the internet as an overall but there is a significant difference in terms of using the internet to search academic materials. Is this somehow closely related to the issue why more females are in higher education compare to males?

Anyway, another trend among the various uses of the Internet is the use of internet access for social media which charted highest, disregarding gender. Thus, our respondents are more likely to use it  as a form of communication technology for as much as 80% of them interact with their families and friends through the internet. This is perhaps due to the respondents being away from their home and need to keep in contact and connected with their family and friends, and what could be more convenient and cheaper than the free WhatsApp call or WeChat text. Thus, overall, the Internet consumption pattern among studying the 20 respondents conclude to be primarily communication and networking.


Social media is a new form of communication product which has converted the way people communicate (Cabral, 2010). And this trend is also shown among our respondents as well but through different channels. In the illustration chart above, it is obvious that Facebook and WhatsApp are the most popular social media that young people used nowadays. Thus, new media have increased the social interaction among the different society around the world and this has changed many perspectives, values, and socio-cultural aspects that have been reaccessed (Chen, 2012). 

 

NO-MOBOPHOBIA

As a conclusion, among the university students in Malaysia, there is relativity more digital inequality compare to the digital divide. And as a bonus, we reveal the results of a Nomophobia which have been included in our questionnaire as well, accessing the attachment of the respondents to their phone. 

Nomophobia is short for "no-mobile-phone-phobia" which as its name suggest is a fear of being without a mobile phone, though some suggest that the use of phobia is an exaggeration of what is an anxiety. Nevertheless, with Internet access growing as an important resource, many have grown attached to their phones and some to the extent of developing a new "disease". This disease is said to cut across age, gender, ethnicity and nationality with symptoms of bringing in mobile devices into bathrooms, the habit of constantly keeping phone battery fully-charged and obsessively checking phones for missed calls, emails, and texts. This checklist presented to our respondents however only yielded a 9:11 ratio with nomophobes  being the majority. And that concludes this episode of new media consumption.



Source of image: http://www.pakwheels.com/


If you are interested in checking out if you are a nomophobe or not, here is a the self-assessment checklist we used. Do try it out and leave comments below. 







References 


Cabral, J. (2010). Is generation Y addicted to social media? Retrieved from:

Chen, G. M. (2012). The impact of new media on intercultural communication in global 

           context. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi? 
           article=1012&context=com_facpubs 

DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E., (2001). From the 'digital divide' to 'digital inequality': 

           Studying internet use as penetration increases. Retrieved 
           from https://www.princeton.edu/~artspol/workpap/WP15%20-  
           %20DiMaggio%2BHargittai.pdf 

Mesch, G. S. (2009). The internet and youth culture. The hedgehog review, 11(1), 50-60. 

           Retrieved from http://www.iasc-culture.org/THR/archives/YouthCulture/Mesch.pdf 

Organisation For Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) (2001). 

          Understanding the digital divide. Retrieved 
          from https://www.oecd.org/sti/1888451.pdf 

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Life-long Learner

A group of ten Ansos students, comprising of Vivian, Ching, Steph, Mun Yee, Pik Lam, Siti, Joanna, Ludiah, Hidayat and Ardillah blogging about communication and technology, striving for an A in this course and having a snack while we are at it :)

2 comments:

  1. The increasing number of internet consumption with relation to online media is inevitable as we rely mostly on internet to complete most of our tasks, either in work place or within our private sphere. So, yeah, it is true that people can't live with its absent!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Youth nowadays so involved with online media especially my son who keep on watching youtube everyday that really give me a lot of headache.

    ReplyDelete