Digital inequality: differences in young adults' use of the Internet

  • Hargittai E
  • Hinnant A
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Abstract

This article expands understanding of the digital divide to more nuanced measures of use by examining differences in young adults' online activities. Young adults are the most highly connected age group, but that does not mean that their Internet uses are homogenous. Analyzing data about the Web uses of 270 adults from across the United States, the article explores the differences in 18- to 26-year-olds' online activities and what social factors explain the variation. Findings suggest that those with higher levels of education and of a more resource-rich background use the Web for more 'capital-enhancing' activities. Detailed analyses of user attributes also reveal that online skill is an important mediating factor in the types of activities people pursue online. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for a 'second-level digital divide,' that is, differences among the population of young adult Internet users. Keywords: skill; self-perceived knowledge; Internet; Web use; online behavior; young adults; digital divide

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adults -- Analysis
  • Adults -- Social aspects
  • Adults -- Usage
  • Internet
  • Internet -- Analysis
  • Internet -- Social aspects
  • Internet -- Usage
  • Teenagers -- Analysis
  • Teenagers -- Social aspects
  • Teenagers -- Usage
  • Youth -- Analysis
  • Youth -- Social aspects
  • Youth -- Usage

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Authors

  • Eszter Hargittai

  • Amanda Hinnant

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