Digital inclusion and wellbeing in New Zealand

Andi Weiland SOZIALHELDEN lowresInternet access:    
A good thing that fades like snow    
and some groups miss out.    

We examine:

  • which groups have a lower likelihood of being digitally included in New Zealand, and
  • how digital inclusion relates to wellbeing.

Using four large-scale surveys, we identify several groups whose members are prone to relatively low internet access: people living in social housing; disabled individuals; Pasifika; Māori; people living in larger country towns (10,000-25,000 people); older members of society (particularly those aged over 75 years); unemployed people and those not actively seeking work.

Those in social housing and disabled people are particularly disadvantaged with respect to internet access. Disabled people are also at greater risk than others from a virus infection or other internet interference. We identify a number of associative (but not necessarily causal) relationships between internet access and wellbeing. Those with internet access tend to have higher wellbeing and richer social capital outcomes (e.g. voting) than those without access.

For adolescents, as internet use on weekdays outside of school increases, students’ subjective wellbeing declines; once daily internet use exceeds about two hours, we find no positive association between internet use and adolescents’ wellbeing. These results are of particular interest given that 15% of 15-year olds (including 27% of Māori students) report using the internet for more than 6 hours per day on a weekday outside of school, while over half report more than two hours’ use.

An accessible version of this paper, designed for screen readers is available at www.digital.govt.nz

Funders

Department of Internal Affairs