Understanding Cyber Behavior in Europe

Understanding Cyber Behavior in Europe

Petter Bae Brandtzæg (SINTEF ICT, Norway)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch100
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Abstract

This chapter aims to understand cyber behavior in terms of Internet usage patterns in Europe. It presents both an historical introduction to the term and insight into the different approaches to understanding cyber behavior, such as the user typology approach, by which European citizens are classified according to their Internet usage patterns. It also provides insight into cross-country differences in Europe, with a focus on the North/South European divide in Internet access and use. Further, this chapter presents several important factors affecting the European digital divide, such as economy, gender equality, press freedom and political openness, education, and culture. Finally, some important future research directions related to cyber behavior in Europe are suggested.
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Introduction

We are in the midst of the evolution of cyber behavior in Europe. However, research on cyber behavior, understood as online usage patterns, has been overshadowed by the fact that most of the empirical studies and theories on the use of new communication technologies have a US-centric focus. This is not surprising, considering the pervasiveness and dominance of US media and technologies, recently illustrated by popular online services such as Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Facebook, as well as new mobile technology such as iPhone and iPad. There are, nevertheless, great regional variations in Internet access and use across cultures and societies that should be taken into account (Castells, 1996). European users might draw on existing culturally specific belief, lifestyle and value systems when they use, interpret, and co-create different online services and applications. An understanding of specific characteristics with European cyber behavior is therefore necessary.

In order to provide researchers with a better understanding of how and why individuals adopt certain types of cyber behaviors, particularly in Europe, in this chapter, we introduce the meaning of the term “cyber behavior” and the current research and research challenges related to this topic. We will discuss the digital divide and participation inequality in cyber behavior and its consequences and future prospects in digital literacy and technology development. This chapter provides an overview of what is known about the determinants of the cross-country diffusion and adoption of the Internet in Europe to highlight the differences between the use of new communication technologies in Europe, the US, and other parts of the world. Finally, we will also examine several important factors affecting different countries' experiences with the new media, focusing on cultural influences on perceptions, adoption, and use.

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