Czech Republic data for 'World Internet Project' under analysis

The Czech Republic this year is for the first time taking part in the World Internet Project, a cross-cultural survey that seeks to identify how the behaviour and views of Internet users differs from those who rarely, if ever, go online. Brian Kenety caught up with the Czech Republic project coordinator and has this report.

Much of what we know about global Internet use -- for example, that on average men spend more time online than women -- was first quantified by the UCLA World Internet Project. The study is also the first to comprehensively track shifts in a wide range of behaviour, attitudes, values, and perceptions of the Internet generation.

Dr David Smahel is a professor at the faculty of social sciences at Masaryk University in Brno.

"This research has already been carried out in sixteen or seventeen countries. We just started in the Czech Republic this year; we got funds from the Ministry of Education to cooperate in this international project. The methodology is the same or very similar throughout the whole world -it's the main idea of the project, so that we may compare the data from every country."

Dr Smahel says that the data collected thus far have confirmed the global "generation gap" among Internet users. Nearly 90 percent of Czechs teenagers regularly use the Internet, while only 15 percent of those in their sixties or older ever go online.

"I think that the main finding of this project is that fifty percent of Czechs are using the Internet, and it is very dependent on the age of the population."

The data have not yet been fully analysed, but some preliminary findings from the survey will be published this Wednesday on the website A full report should be ready by November 7, in time for the Cyberspace 2005 conference, held this year in Brno.

Dr Smahel says he was especially interested to learn how young people use the Internet to explore their identity and discuss sensitive topics.

"It surprised me a lot [the extent to which] young people prefer virtual [online] communication, compared to older people, and there was really a big difference as to what they perceived virtual communication brings them."

"The adolescents say they can release their emotions much more easily on the Internet. For example, they use the Internet quite often to communicate about sexual issues, because it's not so easy to communicate on this theme in real life. They perhaps have opportunities to explore their identity - and the Internet helps them a lot in this task."