A recent RFERL report about social networking site use in rural Azerbaijan got me thinking about doing a blog post about regional differences in Internet activities in the Caucasus. (And whenever we’re talking about Internet and Azerbaijan, gender needs to be looked at as well.)
I have a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Communication that looks at the relative influence of demographics (gender, region, age, education, wealth, English language skill) and device (mobile or PC or both) on Internet activities in Armenia.
Here’s the abstract:
Digital inequality can take many forms. Four studied here are access to Internet, use of different devices, extent of usage, and engagement in different Internet activities. However, it is not clear whether sociodemographic factors, or devices, are more influential in usage and activities. Results from an unfamiliar context show that there are significant sociodemographic influences on access, device, usage and activities, and differences in activities by device type and usage. While sociodemographic differences are more influential, device type can increase likelihood of use for some “capital enhancing” activities, but only for a computer. Thus, although mobile Internet is available for those on the wrong side of the digital divide, these users do not engage in many activities, decreasing potential benefits.
In Armenia, 50% of users are on social networking sites, regardless of region. Skype is much more popular in regional cities and rural areas, and online news is most popular in Yerevan. Notably, 18% of all rural Armenians use social networking sites. 22% of all rural Armenians use Skype.
In Azerbaijan, there is more variance between regions. Over half of all users, regardless of region, are on social networking sites; and the percentages of users of the other activities is fairly consistent between regions. However, there are few rural Azerbaijanis online.
In Georgia, over two-thirds of users, regardless of region, are on social networking sites. Non-Tbilisi Georgians are less likely to read online news. 17% of rural Georgians are on a social networking site.
In terms of gender and activities, there are also some interesting differences.
In Armenia and Georgia there are not many differences between men and women in their Internet activities. But in Azerbaijan, the differences are notable. (More on this here.)