Arabs in Israel blog more than Jews, study finds

"Israel in the Digital Age" report shows new immigrants get online to stay connected to their hometowns.

Laptop 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Laptop 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Arabs in Israel blog more than Jews, while new immigrant youth use social networking platforms to stay connected to the friends they left behind. These are just some of the findings of a first-of-its-kind study released Monday looking at how Israelis use the Internet.
Funded by Google Israel and carried out by academics at the School of Media Studies at the College of Management Academic Studies (COMAS) in Rishon Lezion, the study titled “Israel in the Digital Age 2012,” questioned more than 1,200 respondents ranging in age (from 12 upward) and population sector.
Overall, the study found that the online habits of Israelis directly reflect the country’s social, economic, cultural and religious makeup, with the secular public being more connected to the Internet than the ultra- Orthodox, higher earners and young people spending more time on social networking platforms and Hebrew speakers preferring to surf Hebrew-language websites.
The study noted that Israeli Arabs are much more active in blogging compared to their Jewish counterparts.
Roughly one-third (28.3 percent) of Arab speakers who reported writing a blog said they updated it daily, while only 12% of Jewish bloggers said the same.
The study also found that 37% of the Arab population that reads blogs does so everyday, while only 24% of the Jewish population reads blogs with such frequency.
Researchers also noted that while many young people admitted to being extremely active on social networking sites such as Facebook – saying that the forum allowed them to stay in touch with friends – all new immigrant youth aged 15-17 interviewed for the study said they were involved in social media platforms.
Another of the study’s key findings was the overwhelming interest among Israelis in Hebrew-only websites, even for those whose mother tongue is something other than the country’s official language.
According to the findings, 67.5% of Israelis surf primarily in Hebrew, while only 16.5% prefer to use English.
One-third of Hebrew-speaking users said they only visit Hebrew websites.
Dr. Yuval Dror, head of digital media at the School of Media Studies at COMAS, who led the study, said its main goal was “to open the black box” and shed light on Internet usage in Israel.
“The digital age is rapidly changing Israeli society,” Dror said. “But in recent years the media and public discourse has lacked reliable, open and comprehensive data which can form the basis for the determining policy and decision-making in the public and private sectors alike.”
“By examining all the various population sectors in Israeli society, the survey shows how the Internet influences Israelis, determines their priorities, actions and deeds,” he continued.
In general, the study found that the overwhelming majority (70%) of Israelis regularly surf the Internet.
However, while only 7.7% of secular Israelis admitted to not being connected to the online world, more than half (58%) of the ultra-Orthodox population here is not connected.
The study also found that more than half of Israel’s Internet users participate in a social networking service at least once a week, with younger users involved on a daily basis and older citizens (over 65) using it less.
Research noted that respondents with a higher level of education were less likely to use social networks daily.
Many of Israel’s Internet users (74.3%) utilize the medium regularly to watch videos online – but it is the ultra-Orthodox public (almost 81%) who uses this format more than the secular (73%).
Comparing the Jewish and Arab sectors, research found that 76% of Jews and 63% of Arabs watch online videos, although more Arab users (27%) upload videos than Jewish users (19%).
Meir Brand, Regional Director for Israel, Greece and South Africa at Google, said he hoped the study would be utilized for decision-making in policy issues relating to the Internet and as a basis for initiatives in the private and public sectors.