Digital inequalities and implications for social inequalities: a study of internet penetration amongst university students in South Africa

SOURCE: Telematics and Informatics
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2012
TITLE AUTHOR(S): T.D.Oyedemi
KEYWORDS: INEQUALITY, INTERNET, UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9939
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/11246

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Abstract

International and national data sources confirm the limited access to the Internet in South Africa. However, there is a need to study how this limited access is distributed amongst population groups in the country. This study investigates the pattern of Internet access amongst university students in South Africa. University students are a relevant population group for studying technology penetration; this population is a generation born in the current era of digital revolution, they are presumably early adopters of technology and are adept in using them. A survey conducted in ten South African universities reveals that beyond publicly available access on campuses ??? with its attendant constraints, personal/household Internet access is a challenge and it reflects a pattern of inequalities in South Africa. Bearing in mind that social and economic exclusion is the biggest challenge for South Africa, this study reveals that digital inequalities amongst students replicate the pattern of social inequalities in the country. This exacerbates existing social inequalities, specifically amongst university students in South Africa, with certain categories of students being disproportionately disadvantaged.