Who uses public access ICTs? With the release of the first survey working paper, Public access to ICTs: Sculpting the profile of users, the Global Impact Study offers insight into who the users of public access ICTs are. Written by George Sciadas, with input from Hil Lyons, Chris Rothschild, and Araba Sey, this working paper results from data analysis of the user surveys in Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, and the Philippines.
This paper presents various characteristics of public access ICT users. While earlier research suggests that public access ICT users are young, male, and only play games, the Global Impact Study has found that a myriad of user profiles exist. Looking at a variety of variables, from gender to income and education to age, this working paper highlights the diversity found among public access ICT users.
Based on a survey of public access ICT users in five countries, this working paper outlines some basic characteristics of users – their demographics, history of using ICTs and reasons for using public access ICTs. This preliminary analysis indicates that while a large proportion of public access ICT users are young (40% under 20 years old), male (65%), students (44%), and have at least secondary education (82%), there is a fair amount of diversity in user characteristics. The significance of public access ICTs is demonstrated in the finding that most users’ first contact with computers (50%) and the internet (62%) was in a public access venue, and even those who have access at home patronize venues for other reasons, such as better equipment, faster connections, being with friends, or having access to help from venue staff.
The Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies is a five-year project (2007-2012) to generate evidence about the scale, character, and impacts of public access to information and communication technologies. Looking at libraries, telecenters, and cybercafes, the study investigates impact in a number of areas, including communication and leisure, culture and language, education, employment and income, governance, and health.
Implemented by the University of Washington’s Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA), the Global Impact Study is part of Investigating the Social & Economic Impact of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies — a broader CAD$7.9 million research project supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and a grant to IDRC from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Managed by IDRC, this project includes the Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies (this project) and , led by Universitat Pompeu Fabra, which aims to deepen the capacity of emerging scholars with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of research on public access to ICT produced in developing countries.