As essential services go online, the gap between who benefits from the internet and who does not widens
New internet users are disproportionately affected by the socio-economic impact of Covid-19, according to a study by Google's Next Billion Users initiative team.
The study titled "New Internet Users in a Covid-19 World" reveals that the challenges brought on by the global pandemic has widened the gap between who benefits from the internet and who does not.
It also finds that the challenges facing the new internet users have also compounded.
As essential services like commerce, education, healthcare and other public services move online to cope with the new norm, it has set back the quality of life of those who cannot afford to stay online.
Existing problems like low digital literacy and limited access to the internet or devices have become more acute and made it harder for those with a limited access to the internet.
The study identifies a set of eight requirements that are persisting or surfacing for new internet users.
Of the needs, the critical one is about data which is being consumed faster. As food, education and even jobs transfer from physical to digital, going and staying online for a longer period becomes a necessity, which means the data cost will eat up a bigger portion of living expenses.
Covid-19 is a challenge for everyone, and it's hitting new internet users especially hard. But even this challenge can open up a new opportunity if the governments, businesses and civil society organisations work together, suggested the study.
Google's Vice President for Payments and the Next Billion Users Initiative Caesar Sengupta said: "As technology plays a bigger role in our lives and digital economies grow, we can and should make the internet better and more inclusive in the post-Covid world for billions of netizens today, the next billion to come, and beyond."
The study was conducted with participants from Brazil, Mexico, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria.
Google's mission is to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Through products and platforms like Search, Maps, Gmail, Android, Google Play, Chrome and YouTube, Google plays a meaningful role in the daily lives of billions of people and has become one of the most widely known companies in the world. Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.