Despite India’s Digital India initiative, only one-in-four adults in India have reported using the internet in 2017, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.
However, the internet penetration in India has improved over years, from 16 percent of adults using the internet in 2013 to 25 percent of them using it now.
It’s still among the lowest in the world and way below the global median average of 75.
The survey also revealed that 78 percent of Indian adults don’t own a smartphone and 80 percent of adults have never been on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc.
South Korea stands out as the most heavily connected society, with 96 percent of adults reporting Internet use, showed the survey conducted in 37 countries.
While the gap in internet use between emerging and advanced economies has narrowed in recent years, there are still large swaths of the world where significant numbers of citizens do not use the internet.
The internet penetration in the emerging economies has gone up from 42 percent in 2013-14 to 64 percent in 2017-18.
But there is still a lot of ground to cover to match with the developed nations where the internet penetration is 87 percent as of now according to Pew Research survey.
The global digital divide is largely an economic story.
Richer countries, as measured by gross domestic product per capita (purchasing power parity), tend to have higher rates of internet use, while poorer countries tend to have lower rates.
The ‘Digital-Divide’ within India
Apart from the digital divide between rich and poor nations, within India too, digital divides persist on the basis of age, education, gender etc.
According to the survey, 53 percent of Indians with higher education level use the internet, while only 11 percent of adults with a lower level of education use the internet in India.
Use of internet also varies among Indian adults depending on their age.
Around 35% of adults (18-36 years of age) use the internet as compared to only 13 percent of adults above 36 years old use internet in India.
Even globally, young people use the internet more than older generations.
The generational divide in India also exists in social media use.
Around 28 percent of adults (18-36 years) use social media as compared to only 10 percent of adults above 36 years of age use networking sites.
Apart from the generational divide over social media use, there also exists a stark gender divide in India.
In India, 28 percent of male adults use social networking sites as compared to only 11 percent of the female counterparts have access to social media.
First Published: IST