Men are more likely than women to say they keep an eye on their spouse’s phone. Out of 11 emerging and developing countries surveyed by an American thinktank, India was the only country where this was the case.
And while large percentages in other countries were concerned about exposure to false information or harmful content, India was the least concerned — only 55 per cent of adults. In fact, in India, 81 per cent believed mobile phones had mostly helped them.
In Pew Research Center’s new study, “Mobile Connectivity in Emerging Economies”, India repeatedly emerged as an anomaly, especially in gender and education correlations as well as positive attitudes towards mobile use. The countries surveyed were Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, South Africa, Kenya, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon. In each country, the researchers conducted roughly 2,500 face-to-face randomly sampled interviews with adults, and in India, the researchers conducted 3,505 interviews.
India was a stark aberration in the survey for its lack of connectivity. Almost half the adults used a basic mobile phone that cannot connect to the internet — far more than other countries — and a third used a smartphone — far less than the others. And while all other countries had more than 60 per cent using the Internet, India stood at 38 per cent.
India had the fewest — 31 per cent — using any social media. The only other country where a majority of adults were not using social media was Kenya at 41 per cent usage. India was among the bottom three for the percentage using three or more of these apps.
In almost all measures of Internet usage and phone ownership, India’s gender disparities were significant compared to other countries. Men were 28 percentage points more likely to own a mobile phone than women in India, far surpassing the eight-point differences in Kenya and Lebanon. A little less than half the men in India used the Internet, compared to 29 per cent women.
While the other countries had large percentages saying they were concerned about children’s exposure to “immoral or harmful content”, India seemed to be the least concerned — at 55 per cent. India also had the lowest amount of worried users regarding nearly all concerns, including exposure to false information and identity theft.
Paradoxically, the country also had some of the widest difference between the percentages of those who believe social media has been mostly good for society and those who believe it has been mostly bad — at 37 and 9, respectively.
Around two-thirds believed the internet and phones will have a good influence on education, a little over half believed so for family cohesion, and almost 40 per cent for politics. Only 42 per cent of adults limited their time on the phone, and 38 per cent limited their children’s time. Far more people, 68 per cent, believed mobile phones are good for society than those who believed it is a bad thing, 5 per cent.
While those in other countries mostly said they share a phone because they cannot afford one, Indians have comparatively low phone ownership for unique reasons: phone sharers said they don’t need to use it regularly or that it’s too complicated to use.
India has the smallest percentage of Facebook users — 24 per cent — but the largest net number of active Facebook users in the world. Almost 30 per cent of surveyed Indians used WhatsApp.
Like those in India, adults in Mexico, Colombia, Jordan, South Africa and Lebanon used WhatsApp far more than Facebook. In India, only 4 per cent said they used Twitter, 7 per cent Instagram, 2 per cent Snapchat, 1 per cent Tinder, and 1 per cent said they used Viber.