May 6, 2007

A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users

Light but Satisfied

Despite having cell phones or online access, “Light but Satisfied” users say technology does not do much for them.

The first of these groups, the Light but Satisfied, has a below-average rate of internet and cell phone access. They are not frequent users of the internet and are least likely group to rely on their cell phones for most of their calls. Although ICTs do not loom large in the lives of Light but Satisfied group members, they seem reasonably satisfied with how it lets them keep in touch with family and friends.

Assets

The “Light but Satisfied” group is marked by a wide internet-cell phone adoption gap. Nearly 9 in 10 (86%) have a cell phone, but 60% are internet users, with few (15%) with high-speed connections at home. Some (61%) have desktop computers, making this the only group thus far for which desktop computer penetration equals internet usage rates. Only 13% in this group have laptop computers A minority of these users have digital cameras (43%) and video cameras (38%), but few have PDAs or MP3 players.

Activities

Only one third of online users in the Light but Satisfied group go online on the average day, so the internet is only occasionally a destination for them. Very few internet users in this group go online just to pass the time on the average day (5%), and only 11% of Light but Satisfied online users have entered the world of user-generated content.

Just 15% of “Light but Satisfied” users have broadband internet connections at home.

Instead, this group has old media habits. The Light but Satisfied users are among most likely of any to watch TV on the average day, and they report watching a fairly high number of hours of TV per day. They are least likely to have ever watched TV on a non-TV device or to listen to radio on a device that isn’t a home or car radio (2% and 3%, respectively). Despite a high cell phone penetration rate, they report the lowest share of people saying they use the cell phone for most of their calls (22%). Their cell phones have few features, and what features they have are not put to much use. The cell phone, it seems reasonable to speculate, is a tool for phone calling in special or emergency situations.

Attitudes

This group registers some concerns about information overload (38% say they suffer from it) and 63% believes technology results in less control over their lives or makes no difference. Only 7% say it would be very hard to give up the internet and only a quarter (27%) think it would be hard to give up their cell phone. At best, information technology is a way to stay in touch with family and friends; 39% say it helps a lot in this regard, which is still well below the 59% average.

Demographics

This is the oldest of any group with some information technology (the median age is 53) and it does not have a lot of online experience (about five years). It is a mainly white group (79%) and few (18%) have graduated from college. More than half (57%) are women and its household income is below average. The Light but Satisfied group members make up 15% of the population.