Public access to ICTs: Sculpting the profile of users is a Global Impact Study working paper by George Sciadas, with input from Hil Lyons, Chris Rothschild, and Araba Sey.
Based on a survey of public access ICT users in five countries, it outlines some basic characteristics of users – their demographics, history of using ICTs and reasons for using public access ICTs. “Public access” is defined as computer and Internet services that are open to the general public.
This preliminary analysis indicates that while a large proportion of public access ICT users are young (50% under 25 years old), 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.
The table below shows that for most users (except in Brazil) public access venues are the only option when it comes to computer and internet access. The other two main reasons for visiting a public access venue is better equipment and to work or be with friends and other people.
Table 1: Main reason for using public access venues (%)
Looking at users experience with using computers as shown in the table 2, we can see that most users have more than 1 year experience except in Bangladesh. Users with over five years of experience account for more than 57% in Brazil, 70% in Chile and around 42% in the Philippines. Analysis reveals that not too many young users (in the 12-15 and 16-19 age groups) are new users. The proportions with less than one year of experience are rather small, ranging from around 13% in the Philippines to under 5% in Chile for the 12-15 age group. The exception is Bangladesh with about 17%. Many new users are older, particularly in Chile and Brazil.
Table 2: Experience of public access venue users with computers (%)
Papers with advanced analyses are expected as this is the first of a series of papers. Questions of social, economic, and political impacts of public access to ICTs should be answered in the upcoming papers.