“I Don’t Use the Internet”: Exploring Perceptions and Practices Among Mobile-Only and Hybrid Internet Users

Isabel Pavez, Teresa Correa


Mobile-only use in developing countries is increasing as public policies pursue universal Internet access through mobile connections and smartphones to tackle digital inequality. Therefore, it is relevant to understand what mobile phones mean for people, how they engage with them, and new forms of digital inequality that may emerge. Thus, from a digital inclusion and technology affordances perspective, this article reflects on the perceptions and practices among mobile-only and hybrid users (mobile and PC). The study, conducted in Chile, a country with high levels of mobile connectivity, relied on 30 in-depth interviews and digital tours, an ethnographic strategy to access participants’ smartphone customization and usage. Findings indicate that mobile-only users perceived no differences from that of using computers, developed practices to circumvent their lack of skills, and perceived no need to include a more complex device, such as a computer. Hybrid users, on the other hand, evaluated their gateway access according to their goals and contexts and were more critical of being constantly online and of the role of the Internet in their everyday lives.


Internet, digital inclusion, digital inequality, mobile phones, mobile-only users, Chile

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