About this paper

Appears in:
Page: 6434 (abstract only)
Publication year: 2018
ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2018.1516

Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain

DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP IN PAKISTAN - OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

C. Sinclair-Jones

British Council (PAKISTAN)
This paper explores the potential presented by rapidly increasing digital access and use across Pakistan. A joint study by the British Council and the Centre for Cultural Relations at the University of Edinburgh, the paper investigates what is meant by 'digital citizenship,' the opportunities and challenges facing the growth of digital citizenship and offers a set of recommendations to international and national stakeholders around capacity building, governance, infrastructure investment and content and service development - particularly as understood through a gender lens.

This study uses data sets from across Pakistan, an online nationwide survey, desk research as well as interviews from sector specialists and media influencers.

Digital citizenship refers to people who use the internet regularly and effectively on a daily basis. Digital citizens have regular access to the internet, the literacy and digital skills to use it, and can access the internet freely and ethically to participate in society, public and civic life. Internet use is spreading rapidly in Pakistan, albeit from a low starting point: Pakistan only launched third and fourth generation internet services in 2014, catalysing the increase of internet users from 3.8 million in 2014 to over 35.1 million in 2017 - the fastest rate of growth in South Asia. Women and men are equally likely to have access to the internet; however, this study reveals that women face sustained cultural barriers to access. This results in a clear gender divide in internet use (as opposed to access) with men three times more likely to use the internet than women. Young people are the most frequent users of the internet and engage on a wide range of topics, including politics and education. Political parties are adapting their campaigns to reach these online audiences, with social media an increasingly prominent component.

This paper demonstrates that Pakistan has so far been unable to benefit from the 'digital dividends' of using digital technologies: while digital technologies have spread rapidly, their benefits have largely lagged behind. There is little education available on how to use the internet safely or effectively, and low literacy rates (68 per cent for men and 45 per cent for women) with over 50 per cent of participants in our study unable to access the internet for this reason. Language is another barrier, as there is little dedicated Urdu language content, which has limited the ways in which young people engage with the digital realm. Internet access varies significantly between Pakistan's provinces and rural/urban areas, highlighting the need for smart infrastructure investment.

Women in particular also face unique threats of violence, harassment, stalking and trolling online; this is again exacerbated by scarce training resources on internet awareness and safety.

Conversely, women are increasingly conducting business online and the internet offers spaces for mixed-gender interaction that would be more difficult in physical spaces within a socially conservative country. Social media in particular is facilitating the growth of start ups and women-led enterprises.

Despite the recent rise in internet connectivity in Pakistan, the digital divides remain vast and the digital dividends unharnessed. Interested parties must encourage the move beyond personal use to more socially constituted experiences in order to truly harness the potentials posed by digital for Pakistani society.
@InProceedings{SINCLAIRJONES2018DIG,
author = {Sinclair-Jones, C.},
title = {DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP IN PAKISTAN - OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES},
series = {12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2018 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-9480-7},
issn = {2340-1079},
doi = {10.21125/inted.2018.1516},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/inted.2018.1516},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {5-7 March, 2018},
year = {2018},
pages = {6434}}
TY - CONF
AU - C. Sinclair-Jones
TI - DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP IN PAKISTAN - OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
SN - 978-84-697-9480-7/2340-1079
DO - 10.21125/inted.2018.1516
PY - 2018
Y1 - 5-7 March, 2018
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2018 Proceedings
SP - 6434
EP - 6434
ER -
C. Sinclair-Jones (2018) DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP IN PAKISTAN - OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES, INTED2018 Proceedings, p. 6434.
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