People in emerging economies see the Internet as a good thing for education and the economy, but worry about its impact on morality, a global survey showed today.
The Pew Research Center survey showed a median of 64 per cent of respondents in 32 emerging and developing nations say the Internet is a positive for education. A majority also see the Internet as a good influence on personal relationships and the economy, but offer a mixed view on other impacts, the Pew Global Attitudes survey showed.
Asked about the Internet's impact on politics, 36 per cent said the Internet is good, but 30 per cent said it was negative. Meanwhile, 42 per cent said the Web is a bad influence on morality, with 29 per cent saying it is positive. The survey highlights ambivalence toward the Internet in countries with varying numbers of people online -- from just eight per cent in Pakistan to 76 per cent in Chile.
Pew researchers noted that Internet use is growing fast in these countries, largely due to increased use of smartphones accessing the mobile Web, "Once online, Internet users in emerging and developing nations have embraced socializing as their most preferred type of digital activity," the report said. "Majorities of Internet users in all countries surveyed with large enough sample sizes to analyze say they stay in touch with friends and family online through social networking sites.
Many also use cyberspace for getting information about politics, health care and government services." The survey found people who have Internet access are generally more positive about its influence on society. And the more highly educated people also were more likely to see the Internet as beneficial.
Among the 32 countries surveyed, the median percentage of people online was 44 per cent. "Internet use is highest in the wealthiest of the emerging nations, particularly in Chile and Russia, where more than seven in 10 have Internet access," the report said, noting that these rates are still behind the US percentage of 87 per cent.
"The lowest Internet rates are in some of the poorest countries surveyed. Just eight percent of Pakistanis and 11 percent of Bangladeshis either say they access the Internet at least occasionally or own a smartphone." Computers remain out of reach of most people in many of the countries surveyed.
The percentage of people with access to a PC varied from 78 per cent in Russia to three per cent in Uganda, with a median of 38 per cent. An estimated 84 per cent of people in these countries had access to some type of cell phone, but the percentage was just 24 per cent for an Internet-capable smartphone, the survey found. The percentage with smartphones was below 10 per cent in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Uganda and Pakistan.