Fact-tank PEW’s newest research says while the gap in internet usage between emerging and advanced economies is narrowing, there are still large swaths of the world where significant numbers of citizens do not use the internet.
This Asian country is in the same league as the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, the US, Israel, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain – where roughly nine-in-ten report internet use.
Among other Asian countries studied for internet penetration and usage across various categories such as age and gender China’s done fairly well at 71 per cent. Japan’s usage is at 76 per cent, Vietnam 64, Philippines 56, Indonesia 30 and India 25.
The study makes a special note of poor internet penetration in India.
“Internet use continues to lag in many developing economies. Only one-in-four Indians, for instance, report using the internet or owning a smartphone. Regionally, sub-Saharan Africa is one of the least wired parts of the globe,” reads the Pew report. Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact-tank that informs about issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.
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. This pattern has been consistent across prior surveys and remains today for both internet use and smartphone ownership, the report adds.
Internet penetration rates – as measured by internet use or smartphone ownership – remain high in North America and much of Europe, as well as in parts of the Asia-Pacific.
South Korea tops in the Asian countries studied in the smart phone ownership category too. 94 per cent South Koreans own a smart phone and a high percentage of them are wired. China stands at 68 per cent, Japan 59, Vietnam 53, Philippines 44, Indonesia 27 and India 22.
“Despite the increasing levels of smartphone use, ownership still lags in India, Indonesia and Africa,” Pew report points out.
In yet another important category which was covered by the Pew survey – social media use – 69 per cent South Koreans are active on social media. China is close behind at 60, Vietnam at 53, Philippines at 49, Japan at 39, Indonesia at 26 and India lagging at 20.
Social media use is widespread among internet users in the Philippines and Indonesia – even though internet penetration is far lower than other Asian nations.
In contrast, in some countries with high rates of internet use, relatively fewer adults report using social media. In Germany, for instance, where 87 per cent of people use the internet, less than half say they use social media.
India’s active batting for “Digital India” seems to not have taken off so far and more needs to be done to get the country on the world digital map.
Smartphone ownership among adults in India went up from 12 per cent in 2013 to 22 per cent in 2017, while social media use went up from eight to 20 per cent during the same period. However, clearly this isn’t enough.
South Korea shines as the most heavily connected country in Asia and the world, in the 37 countries surveyed by PEW.