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A Systematic Literature Review on Immigrants' Motivation for ICT Adoption and Use (2016)

Posted on:
May 26, 2020

What is this research about?

Several studies demonstrate that immigrants use computers and the Internet more than non-immigrants or earlier immigrants. In this study, the researcher sought to answer these questions: What motivates immigrants to use information and communication technology (ICT)? What are the factors that influence immigrants’ ICT behaviors?

What do you need to know?

Several studies assessing immigrants’ struggles in adjusting to the host country’s environment have identified that ICTs—mainly computers and the internet—play pivotal roles in the successful resettlement of immigrants.

What did the researchers do?

The author chose 20 peer-reviewed articles published between 2001 and 2015 to study immigrants’ motivations for ICT adoption and use.

Six studies discussed the issues of immigrants in the U.S. Ten studies (two from each country) focused on immigrants in New Zealand, Israel, Canada, Germany, and The Netherlands. Two studies (one from each country) examined immigrants’ ICT adoption in Australia and Singapore. The two remaining articles were based on literature review. These articles demonstrated a trend that immigrants from developing countries (i.e., South America, Africa, and Asia) resided in developed countries in North America (U.S. and Canada), West Europe (Germany and The Netherlands), and Australia (Australia and New Zealand). Interestingly, two small but developed Asian nations (Israel and Singapore) were also among the countries that received immigrants.

Of the 20 articles, 17 were empirical studies. The three remaining performed meta-analysis on immigrants’ adjustment to their new environment, as well as their use of ICTs to facilitate their transition. Among the empirical studies: five used semi- structured interviews; five used survey methods; three used ethnographic studies; two used focus groups; and two used in-depth interviews. Of the three meta-analyses, two studies were based on literature review and one study used data from the Canadian Internet Use Survey-2010.

What did the researchers find?

The article discusses two motives for immigrants’ ICT use, as well as identify seven factors influencing adoption, non-adoption, use, and non-use.

The two key motivations for ICT adoption and use by immigrants are:

  1. adjustment to and integration within the new host country environment through ICTs
  2. connection of immigrants with their family and friends back home through various ICTs.

The seven factors influencing immigrants’ decisions to adopt and use ICTs were:

  1. age;
  2. education;
  3. income;
  4. culture;
  5. ICT skills;
  6. language; and
  7. attitude

By using ICTs, immigrants can:

  • Reconnect and maintain socio-cultural networks back home
  • Familiarize themselves with and adjust to a new environment
  • Explore information and provide various support services
  • Retrieve health information
  • Enhance children’s education
  • Entertain elderly people in their leisure time

Several studies indicate that:

  • limited income, low-level education, lack of skills, and language barriers cause recent immigrants to have lower rates of access to computers and the internet than the locals
  • recent immigrants are more likely to suffer from the digital divide – the gap between/ among people in regards to their access, skills, usage of and motivation to computers and the Internet
  • when they do have access to the Internet, immigrants have higher levels of online activities and interactions
  • immigrants view ICTs, particularly the computer and the Internet, positively and want to use them as soon as they have the opportunity
  • some immigrants consciously choose not to adopt and use ICT devices because they fear technological risks or have negative feelings about technology

Immigrants’ Motivations for ICT Use:

  • connecting with family and friends in their country of origin;
  • getting information updates;
  • performing job searches;
  • enhancing children’s education;
  • spending leisure time in old age
  • adjustment and integration in the host country

How can you use this research?

Drawing from the selected articles, it was found that immigrants’ motivation for ICT adoption and use was unique and did not remain intact for a long time. Rather, immigrants’ communication with people back home slowly faded. In turn, interaction with local people in the host country gradually increased. This is useful for immigrant and refugee-serving organizations to understand.

As newcomer clients move through the various stages of settlement, it's important to note how their use of ICTs and the reasons why they use them shifts. It's also important to recognize the real digital divide among newcomers and how that can impact their access to information and services in an increasingly digitized world.


In this study, the researcher sought to answer these questions: What motivates immigrants to use information and communication technology (ICT)? What are the factors that influence immigrants’ ICT behaviors?