The advancement of information technology (IT), in particular the Internet, has altered the way commerce is being transacted. The Internet provides a wide range of information and selection of payment tools. It has the capability of enhancing purchasing almost all levels of products and services. Given the current prevalence of usage of the Internet in commerce, it is imperative for users to obtain the relevant skills to use the Internet as well as have the right attitude for the benefits of information technology. The skilful use of the Internet and the right attitude ensure that users will make the right selection of relevant and appropriate websites for their purposes.
The "digital divide" has been presented in IT since the beginning of computer usage. The divide alludes to the notion of the "haves and have-nots" pertaining to availability and use of computers and IT related products/services. Throughout the course of history, some groups had better access to computer and IT than other groups. For example, between male and female, young and old, rich and poor, this disparity has existed for a variety of reasons, among them political, cultural, and socioeconomic in nature.
While there is no doubt as to the existence of the divide, it is believed that this digital divide is shrinking between male and female, young and old, and rich and poor with reference to the usability of IT. There is mounting evidence of a decreasing gender gap in computer use and IT adoption. This movement has existed for a variety of reasons, among them governments' efforts and socioeconomic development. The review of studies concerning Internet usage reveals that the once large gender gap is closing rapidly. In addition, the recent emergence of ubiquitous IT in schools, homes, and workplaces promotes its use regardless of gender, age, and income levels.
According to a recent survey on Internet usage (National Internet Development Agency of Korea, 2008), Internet usage rate of the Korean population ages six and over who used the Internet at least once a week reached 77.1%, or about 35 million users. Among them, about 43% of users accessed the Internet with high-speed broadband with 100Mbps (megabits per second) Ethernet networking standards as of July 2008. Internet usage rate by gender is estimated at 81.6% of males and 71.5% of females. Internet usage rate of six to nine year olds reached 82.2%, ages 10 to 39 year olds reached 99%, and those in their 50s reached 49% (see Table 1).
Almost all students (99.9%), office workers (99.6%) and professionals (98.7%) use the Internet, while 63.4% of housewives and 52.3% of production workers use the Internet. Internet users spend an average of 14 hours a week on the Internet, while more than half the users (69.2%) access the Internet for an average of 28 hours a week. About 99% of the users mostly access the Internet at home and 14% of the users also access the Internet from other places (such as a PC lab, Internet cafe, or public Internet service offices).
Regarding the activities engaged in on the internet, about 93% of respondents used for online recreational activities (e.g., music, game, e-book, e-magazine, e-newspaper, etc), 85% for online communications (e.g., e-mail, instant messenger, etc), 56% for electronic commerce (e-commerce), 49% for online social networking and community, and 36% for Internet banking (includes Internet stock trading) (see Table 2).
There is no overall dominance of any particular gender or age group in all types of Internet usage. The present study attempts to reinforce this trend and examines not only if gender divide is decreasing in overall Internet usage, but also if there is any disparity in the perceptions toward e-commerce benefits and e-commerce adoption. In addition, the author investigates other demographic factors such as age, education and income levels with relation to perceived e-commerce benefits and e-commerce adoption. …