Half of the Georgian population remain off the net
The internet in Georgia is free of notable government censorship, in a sense that there are no known cases of blocked online content, services or applications. Internet has also emerged as a the second most important source of information after TV. But despite such developments, Georgia is still struggling with a low internet penetration. Almost half of the Georgia’s population remains off the net, suggests the late 2013 survey conducted for Transparency International Georgia by Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC). To get a better sense of internet users’ growth dynamics and habits, among other issues, CRRC conducted 1918 face-to-face interviews with adult Georgians throughout the country.
The results of this nationwide poll indicate that more than half of the young people aged 18-35 use internet every day, however, more than fifth of Georgians in this age group do not use internet at all. Older generations use internet less frequently. Half of Georgians aged 36-55 and 75% of people older than 56 are off the net.
Tbilisi dominates in terms of internet penetration where half of Tbilisi residents are everyday internet users. A huge gap exists between the rural and urban populations in this regard. Nearly half of the young people in rural Georgia have never used internet versus one fourth of youth who are online every day. For a comparison, 80% of Tbilisi youth and 60% of people aged 18-35 in other Georgian cities are online every day.
Around 30% of Tbilisi and 65% of Georgian villages remain offline, while 12% of individuals aged 56 and older residing in rural areas say they don’t know what internet is.
Recommendation → The government should introduce projects aimed at improving computer literacy and increasing Internet penetration in Georgia. Special attention should be paid to increasing the rate of Internet users in rural areas and to enable older generations to go online, while also providing young generations with the skills and knowledge they need to use and apply new technologies.
Employed people are more likely to use internet compared with unemployed people and non-active labour force (students, retired people, housewives). One third of employed individuals do not use internet at all.Internet usage also appears to be linked to education. Half of the respondents with incomplete or complete higher education use internet every day, whereas one fourth of them have never used the internet. 60% of people with secondary or lower or with secondary technical education stay offline.
Employed people are more likely to use internet compared with unemployed people and non-active labour force (students, retired people, housewives). One third of employed individuals do not use internet at all.
Internet usage also appears to be linked to education. Half of the respondents with incomplete or complete higher education use internet every day, whereas one fourth of them have never used the internet. 60% of people with secondary or lower or with secondary technical education stay offline.
What Georgian citizens use internet for?
Nationwide poll revealed that Georgians use internet primarily for entertainment purposes and for keeping in touch with people. Younger people are more likely to use internet for entertainment purposes (38%), while older citizens go online more for news (20%) and work-related issues (24%). Also, unemployed people and individuals without higher education are more likely to use internet for entertainment and communication. In terms of residence, there seems to be little difference in internet usage habits among Georgians residing in rural and urban areas or in Tbilisi.
Internet remains as a second largest source of information on current affairs, after TV. 20% of Georgians, mostly urban residents, younger Georgians, employed people and those with higher education, overall named internet among the main sources of information. Absolute majority (more than 90%) of older Georgians, as well as rural residents and unemployed individuals do not use internet as their main source of information.
Facebook vs. Odnoklassniki
Facebook is by far the most popular social network in Georgia. Around one fourth of all Georgians use Facebook at least once a week and around 18% are on Odnoklassniki, while Twitter appears to be fairly unpopular with only 3% of people online using it at least once a week.
Urban residents (including Tbilisi) appear to prefer Facebook over Odnoklassniki, while difference is insignificant for rural population. Around half of all age group internet users in the villages say they use Odnoklassniki, while 60-80% are on Facebook.
Popularity of Facebook, versus Odnoklassniki, is significantly higher among employed people. 85% of employed people who use internet are Facebook users, while less than half of them use Odnoklassniki. Unemployed people and also those who represent non-active labor force seem to be equally using both social networks. 85% of people with incomplete or complete higher education who use the internet are also on Facebook, while twice as less of them are on Odnoklassniki. Internet users without higher education seem to have no strong preference between the two.