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Kiwis favour ‘anywhere, anytime’ internet but suffer digital divide

23 Nov 2013

Most New Zealand internet users are accessing the internet from a hand-held mobile device at least some of the time, according to the 2013 World Internet Project New Zealand (WIPNZ) Report.

The findings highlight the significance of the internet as a source of information as opposed to entertainment, with 81% of respondents overall rating it as an important or very important source of information compared to 56% favouring entertainment.

“With internet use in New Zealand almost reaching saturation point, it is interesting to see how technology such as iPads, smartphones, gaming consoles and other wireless devices are influencing people’s behaviour," says Allan Ball, lead researcher on the WIPNZ, AUT University.

"Seventy per cent of users surveyed in this study said they accessed the internet with a hand-held mobile device at least some of the time.

"This enables them to find and share information, and communicate with each other ‘anywhere, anytime’,”

The WIPNZ Report, part of the international World Internet Project, was completed by AUT’s Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication and funded by InternetNZ and the National Library at the Department of Internal Affairs, with additional support from BuzzChannel.

“New Zealand is widely recognised as a nation of ‘early- adopters’, so to have had AUT University as a partner of the World Internet Project since 2007 has added a new dimension to the international body of data," says Dr Jeff Cole, International Director of the World Internet Project.

"New Zealand provides us with a data set that tells a unique story of internet use. I am looking forward to seeing this latest set of data compared internationally.”

Some key findings from the report include:

• Everyday importance: 73% of New Zealanders feel that the internet is important or very important in their everyday life

• Internet confidence: Most New Zealanders feel confident about their ability to use the internet, with 67% giving themselves 4 or 5 out of 5.

• Time online: 4 out of 5 users spend an hour or more online at home every day.

• Consumer decisions: The internet is used as a tool for consumer decision-making (94% look for information about products online and 85% compare prices).

• Ethnicity and use: Maori and Pasifika New Zealanders are less likely to use the internet with 14% of people being non-users, compared to 7% of New Zealand Europeans and 3% of Asians.

• Social networking: A quarter of users access Facebook or another social networking site several times a day. While Facebook is the most frequently used networking site for all age groups, for those aged 30 and over Facebook is more popular with women, while LinkedIn is substantially more popular with men aged over 40 years.

Online phone calls: 64 % of users make or receive phone calls online.

• Music streaming: Maori and Pasifika users, especially those in lower income households are leading the way with subscriptions to music streaming services like Spotify.

More than one in five Maori and Pasifika internet users in households with a combined income of less than $50,000 have paid for a subscription to a music streaming service compared to only one out of 20 New Zealand Europeans in the same income bracket.

• Cloud computing: Just over a third of users say they use the cloud (store or share files on a remote server maintained by a third party).

InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter believes that the findings reinforced the power and importance of an open and uncapturable internet.

"One of the internet’s hallmark qualities is its openness to innovation without permission," he says.

"The number of Kiwis who view the internet as crucial to their life shows just how important it is that we work hard to maintain its openness."

Internal Affairs' deputy chief executive Sue Powell says the research has informed and supported the Department’s investment in a large-scale digitisation programme which is enriching and increasing the availability of digital content that is relevant to New Zealanders.

"It has also informed our support to New Zealanders who are digitally disadvantaged," Powell adds.

“The report shows the ‘digital divide’ exists - particularly for Māori, Pasifika, those in rural areas, and those on lower household incomes.

"It shows it has a significant impact on people and their ability to participate in society.

"Government has an important role in addressing these issues. National Library, for example, provides free internet access and content to public libraries and supports educators to encourage digital literacy and learning.

"We will work with Archives New Zealand to meet New Zealanders' digital content needs in the future."