Exploring the Deep Structure of Mobile Internet Use Patterns in Bangladesh and Ghana
Posted: 5 Aug 2021 Last revised: 1 Sep 2021
Date Written: August 3, 2021
Although numerous studies exist examining ranking the frequency that users access various use cases, few studies explore the deeper structure and patterns of uses and how they connect to socioeconomic wellbeing. This study uses qualitative data collected through in-depth interviews in Bangladesh (n=35) and Ghana (n=37) that asked questions about the apps and websites that users employ in connection with five key dimensions of socioeconomic wellbeing (i.e., social connectedness, economic activities, work, health, and safety). The sample for these interviews was stratified by gender and urban-rural status. Data collection was in accordance with national COVID-19 guidelines. The interviews yield several major findings. First, we infer from the responses the themes and subthemes underlying the use cases animating the five dimensions of socioeconomic wellbeing. The resulting taxonomy of dimension-specific use cases reveals the use cases associated with different aspects of wellbeing as well as the internal structure of these use cases within each dimension, including some not previously reported. Second, we use the frequency that interview participants mention use cases associated with wellbeing dimensions to assess the relative importance of the different dimensions. This analysis suggests that differences between the dimensions valued by respondents in Bangladesh and Ghana. Third, we assess the frequency that interview subjects employed uses cases associated with each theme and subtheme to obtain a deeper understanding of how mobile Internet usage translates into benefits along each dimension. Fourth, we evaluate differences in use patterns based on gender, urban-rural status, and the interaction between the two. Interestingly, some patterns reverse in urban and rural areas and across the two countries. While preliminary, the study findings reveal complex patterns, previously not reported, that help identify the mechanisms through which mobile Internet use patterns influence different aspects of socioeconomic wellbeing. Further, examining these patterns appears important towards addressing Internet-related issues on gender, diversity, and inclusion. The findings are relevant to technology developers, regulators, policymakers, and researchers trying to improve our ability to bring the benefits of Internet connectivity to as many global citizens as possible.
Keywords: mobile Internet, mobile application, use cases, usage patterns
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