South African internet users log on mostly for social networking

Most South African Internet users log on to access social media, with rapid growth in the number of people using their mobile phones for Internet access, a new report says.

The New Wave Report, written by Indra de Lanerol, visiting research associate from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, found the majority of South African Internet users are young, black people who make use of social media sites.

Internet use in the country has increased at a rapid pace in the past four years. 34 percent of adults claim to use the Internet in comparison to the 15 percent recorded in 2008. Half of the South African population is expected to be online by 2014 if the current growth continues.

One in four (20 percent) live below the official poverty line, which is living on less than R1,500 (US$170) per month, and two-thirds speak African languages as their mother tongue.

The research conducted concludes the community of Internet users has changed significantly in the past five years, most of which are black and almost half are women. Social networking seems to be most popular.

The survey states three quarters of the Internet users are signed up to a social network and approximately two million of the users use the Internet to access social networks almost exclusively. There are an estimated nine million social media users in the country.

The survey report states “while only 18 percent of South Africans own a computer, 84 percent own a mobile phone.” Mobile phones remain the most prominent driver for accessing the Internet in South Africa with over half of the users claiming their first online experience was through a mobile phone.

The top five reasons for South Africans logging onto the internet are: to gather information, socialising, for study purposes, for business purposes and job hunting.

The report concluded 76 percent of South African Internet users live in urban areas, 65 percent have a secondary education, 26 percent hold a degree or diploma and 5 percent possess a postgraduate qualification.

Not being able to speak, read or write English is the largest hindrance to Internet use in the country. Out of the people surveyed, one in five cannot communicate in English proficiently.

Posted in: Internet

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