I’ve been working on a project recently looking at lack of awareness of the Internet. In the U.S. we take for granted that most people know what the Internet is and have a general sense of what it can do, even if they don’t use it themselves. However, even in the U.S., there were (and still are) people that don’t know what the Internet is.
In the Caucasus, not knowing what “the Internet” implies is not uncommon in some places – 1% of Armenians, 22% of Azerbaijanis, and 7% of Georgians report that they don’t know what “the Internet” is (in 2010).
Who are these people? They’re older, they’re rural, they have less education, and they’re poorer.
And, generally, people that are not aware of what “the Internet” is are highly unlikely to ever use the Internet.
The next step is ever using the Internet. In Armenia, two-thirds of citizens have never used the Internet, a little over half (55%) of Azerbaijanis have never used it, and 61% of Georgians have never used it (in 2010).
Again, the people that are not using tend to be older, more rural, less educated, and poorer.
Finally, the last Internet hurdle is frequent use. Many Caucasus “Internet users” are getting online less than once a month. Certainly these infrequent users are not fully benefiting from Internet use. 10% of Armenians, 11% of Azerbaijanis, and 11% of Georgians are online quite infrequently.
So while official statistics from the ITU say that 37% of Armenians, 36% of Azerbaijanis, and 27% of Georgians are online because they define “Internet user” as going online once or more ever, I’d argue that this is adoption, and we should really be discussing frequent users (at least weekly). In that case, 21% of Armenians, 9% of Azerbaijanis, and 18% of Georgians are fully benefiting from Internet use.
Who are those frequent users? They’re generally urban (although in Armenia and to some degree Georgia, there are some rural frequent users, mostly via mobile Internet), better educated, younger, and wealthier.
At least we can see that there has been an increase in awareness, use, and frequent use since 2009. In 2009 71% of Armenians, 62% of Azerbaijanis, and 65% of Georgians knew what the Internet was, and 15% of Armenians, 14% of Azerbaijanis, and 17% of Georgians had ever used it. Frequent users in 2009 were 8% of Armenians, 6% of Azerbaijanis, and 10% of Georgians.