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Obtaining indirect internet access: An examination how reasons for internet non-use relate to proxy internet use

Darja Grošelj, Bianca C. Reisdorf and Andraž Petrovčič

Telecommunications Policy, 2019, vol. 43, issue 3, 213-224

Abstract: Internet non-use is increasingly concentrated in vulnerable groups of people, especially among ageing populations and those with low socio-economic status. As participation in society becomes largely dependent on use of internet-enabled technologies, internet non-users may seek alternative ways of using the internet. Proxy internet use (PIU), where internet non-users ask internet users to perform online activities on their behalf, is a strategy for obtaining (indirect) internet access. This study examines factors for engagement in PIU, focusing specifically on how non-users’ reasons for disengagement relate to their engagement in PIU. The results from multivariate analyses of survey data from a nation-wide representative sample show that 47% of internet non-users in Slovenia who report having someone available for PIU in fact engage in PIU. In analysing four types of reasons for internet non-use—those related to interest, access, costs and skills—the results show that access issues are negatively related to engagement in PIU. Conversely, reasons related to skills issues are positively related to engagement in PIU. Considering that access to online services through PIU offers an important degree of digital inclusion, the results of this study have important policy implications. Policy initiatives tackling digital inequalities should be sensible to access and skills issues resulting in disengagement. For example, policies directed at providing and maintaining internet access at a household level may result in non-users’ increased opportunities for PIU. In contrast, skills policies should be directed at creating opportunities for informal and person-centred learning of digital skills, considering that non-users who are more aware of their deficiency in skills might be more aware of online opportunities.

Keywords: Proxy internet use; Internet non-use; Digital inclusion; Reasons for internet non-use; Indirect internet access; Digital skills (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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