Ahmedabad: The country needs programmes for increasing digital literacy in rural areas, and just providing internet access would not be enough, claims a study conducted by a professor of Indian Institute of Management- Ahmedbad (IIMA).
The study, titled, ‘Factors Influencing Outcome Expectations and Self-Efficacy in Driving Internet Use in Rural India’, by Rekha Jain, professor of Information System Area in IIMA, said that age or education level are not determining factors among rural internet users with respect to self-efficacy and expectations of outcome.
The study conducted across 10 villages of Ranchi, Jharkhand and Guna of Madhya Pradesh batted for forming exclusive programmes to increase digital literacy among the villages rather than just providing internet access and letting it go at that.
“Without such support programs, internet use outcomes would exclude those who are not as digitally literate. Since internet is increasingly becoming the vehicle for economic growth, such exclusions could slow inclusive growth,” said the study.
Rural internet users were asked to rate how the outcomes of internet use helped them in their social aspects, for building economic opportunities and creating and exchanging knowledge. ‘Enhanced scope of work’, ’empowerment’ and ‘transactional efficacy’ were the factors on which the analysis was done among 319 respondents.
Jain said that the findings of the survey was somewhat contradictory to general perceptions that people who are younger and more educated get more out of using internet.
“In the rural context, there was a focus over three dimensions – empowerment, enhancing scope of work and transaction efficacy. With respect to what people in rural areas wanted out of the internet, age and education are not the determining factors,” she said.
“In general, age and education do determine one’s propensity to get on to the internet. But once, one is on the internet, in the face of those the three needs, age and education matter less,” she added.
The study, however, suggested that transactional efficacy was an issue for rural internet users because of lack of trust in doing online transactions. Also, even if someone wished to transact online, other businesses or individuals with whom they wished to transact were mostly unavailable online.