The digital divide is a social and economic issue that refers to the difference in access to the internet among different groups of people. It divides ages, races, and social classes; the elderly, minorities, and the poor being the ones who suffer in this inequality. The number of households that have internet and the number of digital products a single person owns is increasing exponentially, yet the digital divide also continues to grow at an alarming rate.
Reasons People Give for Not Getting Online
- Cost – Biggest expense is a owning a computer.
- Intimidation – Not knowing how to use the PC and the Internet. Where do they go to learn these skills?
- Relevancy – Not knowing what can be done online and how it applies to their lives.
- Affordable Service – However, if people have overcome 1-3 they will find a way to get connected!
A study by the NTIA said:
In the last year, the divide between the highest and lowest income groups grew 29 percent.
Households earning incomes over $75,000 are 20 times more likely to have home internet access than those at the lowest income levels, and 10 times more likely to have a computer if living in the city or suburban area than in the rural area.
Internet services are more attractive for emerging businesses to establish themselves and are more available for richer societies. Consequently, poorer neighborhoods make it less attractive for investments by outside corporations, making the divide worse.
Benefits by having an Internet-connected computer in the home:
- Increased educational success at all levels
- Online jobs search and career development
- Access to social services and health information
- Cost-saving advantages of online shopping
- Search for vehicles and safe, affordable housing
- Connect with family and friends
- Assistance on the path to integration and citizenship
“In a society where increasingly we are defined by access to information and what we earn is what we learn, if you don’t have access to technology, you’re going to be left in the digital dark ages. That’s what the digital divide is all about,” William Kennard, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
The digital divide will not close unless there is an initiative to seal the gap.