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Beyond Access: Digital divide, Internet Use and Gratifications Gained
Unformatted Document Text:  R ETHINKING THE D IGITAL D IVIDE 15 subcategories defined by age and socioeconomic status. As this suggests, even if gaps in access are closing, gaps in usage and gratifications gained may persist. The results of this study indicate that even after residualizing for factors thought to be central to the persistence of access gaps, and only testing relationships among individuals who used the Internet, unique patterns of uses and gratifications emerge across the subgroups we studied. The data suggest that those that are young and high in socioeconomic status are most likely to use the Internet to strategically satisfy their motivations and gain the desired gratifications. First, this group is most likely to engage in specific Internet behaviors — computer-mediated interaction, surveillance, and consumption uses — to achieve particular gratifications — connection, learning, and acquisition, respectively. As this suggests, these individuals may be particularly adept at surgically using the Internet to satisfy the needs that they were seeking to fulfill. They are the most parsimonious in gaining gratifications from the Web. In contrast, the groups that are thought to be relatively less “connected” — young and low SES, old and high SES, and furthest removed, old and low SES — were more apt to rely on multiple Internet behaviors to satisfy their needs. For example, respondents who were low in socio-economic status and young were particularly likely to employ consumptive use of the Internet to attain connection gratifications. Similarly, both low socioeconomic status subgroups, regardless of age, were likely to use computer-mediated interaction as a means to gain learning gratifications. This suggests that those more recent to the Internet are still learning to navigate its complexity and often rely on alternative channels to satisfy basic needs. More generally, this research suggests that research on the digital divide should move beyond a simple consideration of access and more closely examine factors such as patterns of use and their connections to gratifications gained. This study is one step in that direction.

Authors: Cho, Jaeho., Zuniga, Homero Gil de., Nah, Seungahn., Humane, Abhiyan., Hwang, Hyunseo., Rojas, Hernando. and Shah, Dhavan.
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background image
R
ETHINKING THE
D
IGITAL
D
IVIDE
15
subcategories defined by age and socioeconomic status. As this suggests, even if gaps in access
are closing, gaps in usage and gratifications gained may persist. The results of this study indicate
that even after residualizing for factors thought to be central to the persistence of access gaps,
and only testing relationships among individuals who used the Internet, unique patterns of uses
and gratifications emerge across the subgroups we studied.
The data suggest that those that are young and high in socioeconomic status are most
likely to use the Internet to strategically satisfy their motivations and gain the desired
gratifications. First, this group is most likely to engage in specific Internet behaviors —
computer-mediated interaction, surveillance, and consumption uses — to achieve particular
gratifications — connection, learning, and acquisition, respectively. As this suggests, these
individuals may be particularly adept at surgically using the Internet to satisfy the needs that they
were seeking to fulfill. They are the most parsimonious in gaining gratifications from the Web.
In contrast, the groups that are thought to be relatively less “connected” — young and
low SES, old and high SES, and furthest removed, old and low SES — were more apt to rely on
multiple Internet behaviors to satisfy their needs. For example, respondents who were low in
socio-economic status and young were particularly likely to employ consumptive use of the
Internet to attain connection gratifications. Similarly, both low socioeconomic status subgroups,
regardless of age, were likely to use computer-mediated interaction as a means to gain learning
gratifications. This suggests that those more recent to the Internet are still learning to navigate
its complexity and often rely on alternative channels to satisfy basic needs.
More generally, this research suggests that research on the digital divide should move
beyond a simple consideration of access and more closely examine factors such as patterns of
use and their connections to gratifications gained. This study is one step in that direction.


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