The digital divide in Turkey

Dalgıç Tetikol, Deniz Ece
Süreli Yayın başlığı
Süreli Yayın ISSN
Cilt Başlığı
Graduate School
Information and communication technologies (ICT), which broadly include telecommunications, mobile telephony, the Internet, and various Internet-enabled devices, have permeated most aspects of life by offering new and more efficient ways for people to communicate, access information, and learn. With applications in education, banking, e-commerce, health, and government services, among other areas, ICT are a major force behind economic growth and productivity, connecting people to essential services and jobs while enabling businesses to operate. The digital divide describes the uneven distribution of ICT in society. At a high level, the digital divide is the gap between those who have and do not have access to the Internet. However, the digital divide is not a binary but multifaceted and includes many factors such as connectivity, access to equipment, affordability, quality of service, motivation to use the technology, digital skills, and so on. Therefore, the digital divide encompasses various Internet-related challenges, which results in different types (levels) of digital inequality. The digital divide literature categorized those challenges as follows: differences in access (first-level digital divide), usage and digital skills (second level digital divide), and outcomes of Internet use (third level digital divide). These digital gaps exist at the international level as well as within a country. Often these gaps fall along other social inequalities in a country – that is, the different levels of the digital divide usually reflect the gaps between individuals from different demographic backgrounds and at different socioeconomic levels with regard to their opportunity and ability to access and utilize ICT. This thesis empirically examines the different aspects of the digital divide in Turkey. It explores the demographic and socioeconomic determinants of the first level and second level of digital divide in Turkey and analyzes the data that substantiates digital inequalities between years 2008-2020. Digital transformation and technological advancements in ICT offer tremendous opportunities for countries, especially for emerging economies. However, the full potential of digital advancements cannot be achieved by focusing solely on supply-side policies such as investing in infrastructure deployment. Despite increased Internet penetration rates, Turkey has failed to create a digitally inclusive society and risk missing out on the benefits of digitization. One of the leading factors contributing to this problem is the lack of effective demand-side solutions mitigating the digital divide. The results of this thesis suggest that significant disparities persist between different social groups in Turkey in terms of Internet access and Internet usage patterns. The findings of this thesis point out the target groups of first priority to address the first level and second level digital divide in Turkey. We can conclude from the results that special initiatives and programs are required to increase widespread adoption of the Internet. Those initiatives and programs should be designed and implemented with a participatory approach, targeting the high priority groups: women, older citizens, citizens with lower household income, citizens with low educational background, homemakers, and retired people, as well as citizens of the Northeast Anatolia, Central East Anatolia, Southeast Anatolia and West Black Sea regions of Turkey in particular, while considering the factors that make Internet access and use difficult.
Thesis(Ph.D.) -- Istanbul Technical University, Graduate School, 2023
Anahtar kelimeler
communication technologies, iletişim teknolojileri, telecommunication, telekomünikasyon, digital divide, dijital bölünme