Journal article

Digital technology access and use among socially and economically disadvantaged groups in South Australia

29 Nov 2010


This paper analyses the digital technology experiences of socioeconomically disadvantaged groups in Australia. It reports on a qualitative study which explored how these groups access and use information and communication technologies (ICTs), specifically computers, Internet and mobile phones. The ability to access digital information and communication networks (in particular via the Internet and mobile phones) is increasingly seen as vital to full citizen participation in the economic, social, educational, political and cultural life of modern society (Lee, Markotsis & Weir, 2002; Kvasny, Kranich & Schement, 2006; Vinson, 2007). This is particularly so as the prevalence of digital access and use across populations is increasing rapidly, and as businesses and government move to greater ICT-mediated provision of services, support and information. In 2010 the Australian Federal Communications Minister even saw Internet Broadband access as becoming the fourth essential utility after water, gas and electricity (Conroy, 2008), while Huttner (2008) suggests that within the space of ten years a world without the Internet has become as unthinkable for many people as a world without telephones. However, data on ICT access show that a good proportion of populations even within the developed world still have limited or non- existent access and opportunities for use.