M.H. Wei1, C.H. Chen2

1Tzu Chi University (TAIWAN)
2Dahan Institute of Technology (TAIWAN)
The digital divide refers to the gap between those who have information and those who do not. Research evidence from many countries showed that there were significant differences between residents from urban areas and rural areas in computer and Internet usage. However, is this gap caused by personal traits of residents, or is it caused by the opportunities of information access? The primary purpose of this study was to investigate whether there are location differences in information access and information literacy. The secondary purpose was to examine the effects of residential location on information access and information literacy under controlled demographic characteristics.
The participants were adults above 18 years old living in Taipei City (urban area) and Hualien County (rural area) in Taiwan. The total sample consisted of 402 adults from urban area and 431 adults from rural area. Structural questionnaire contained measurement of demographic variables, information access and information literacy. A paper-and pencil survey was conducted among adults. The data have been collected during May to June 2011.
The results show that younger adults, those with more years of schooling, those with a higher occupational class, and those living in urban area have better performance in information access and information literacy. Rural residents appear to have lower frequency of computer usage and Internet usage than urban residents. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that with controlled demographic characteristics and information access, residential location no longer have a significant influence on information literacy, and the influential variables remaining were information access and education level.
These findings suggest that for less urbanization areas, information accessibility should be elevated, and the residents should be provided with information education. There should be suitably designed services and intervention strategies for disadvantaged person, including those with low educational level, low occupational class, and those who are older. As residential location is a variable belong environmental level, future studies should use multilevel modeling method to further clarify the effects of personal and environmental factors on digital divide.