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An in-depth look at Internet adoption and use by Iowa farm families: implications for communicators

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Abbott, Eric A. (main author / Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication), Iowa State University
Publication Date:
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois Box: 139
Subject Term:
adoption, attitudes, computers, extension organizations, farm families, farmer attitudes, farmers, information sources, Internet, media, WWW (World Wide Web)
Paper presented to Research Special Interest Group, Association for Communication Excellence, for presentation at its international meeting, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, June 20-24. Paul Yarbrough, emeritus professor, Cornell University, contributed to the design of the study., 16 p., A total of 226 Iowa farm households with computers were surveyed in 2001 about their use of the Internet for both farm and non-farm uses. Of the 111 farmers (49%) that responded, 87 (78%) used the Internet. Results showed heavy Internet use by multiple household members (farmer, spouse and children), especially for information-seeking and email activities. Use of the Internet for transactions was limited. Farmers were more likely to seek farm decision information, whereas children were more likely to play games and use the Internet for school activities. Spouses used the Internet mostly for email. Farmers now regard the Internet as an essential tool for gathering information they couldn't find elsewhere. Implications for communicators are that the Internet should now be part of the information plan for all communicators serving rural farm audiences, both for farm and non-farm information. Extension and other trusted sources should spend more time guiding clients to trustworthy sites for information.