The multimodality of Internet use: Demographic antecedents and political consequences
There has been a shift in the research of the digital divide from binary access divide to actual usage gaps. The term “digital divide” is subject to modification to a more appropriate construct such as digital inequalities. This study explores the multimodality of Internet use as a critical indicator of digital inequalities. Measuring multimodality by the number of Internet activities, the authors found that going online is a progression with systematic differences between those who engage in more and those who engage in fewer Internet activities. That is, the more modes of Internet activities people are engaged in, the more advanced uses they will add to their online behaviors. On the one hand, multimodality is associated with more frequent general Internet use, more political talk, a younger age, and a higher education and income. On the other hand, multimodal Internet use is significantly associated with political communication and participation. While previous research concludes that the type of Internet activities matters, this study suggests that it is the number of types, or the multimodality of Internet use that matters in examining potential inequalities.