Informative Internet Services and the New Digital Divide: Who Benefits from Using the Internet?
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This study aims to make an innovative contribution to the existing literature on the new digital divide by investigating which personality and socio-demographic factors influence the use of informative Internet services, and how these Internet services affect an individual’s bridging social capital. These two questions are answered by analyzing longitudinal data using Structural Equation Modeling. We found that individuals who are more eager to learn or more open to new experiences (measured by personality factors ‘need for cognition’ and ‘openness to experience’) use a larger amount of informative Internet services than those who do not feel that urge. Furthermore, males and elderly people are more likely to use a larger amount of informative Internet services, as well as those who are higher educated and have higher incomes. No relationship was found between Internet use and bridging social capital, though. This implies that the assumed relationship between Internet use and bridging social capital might not exist when personality and socio-demographics are taken into account as well. Although patterns of a digital divide are clearly visible in people’s surfing patterns, the implications of the new digital divide might not be as severe as has often been proclaimed.