Tech

What Is the Digital Divide?

Consideration of the need for broader access to technology

The digital divide defines the inequality between populations that have access to modern communication technologies (mobile phone, internet, etc.) and those that do not. This article explains what the digital divide is and its global ramifications.

What is the digital divide and why does it matter?

The exact definition of the digital divide has evolved with technological advances. For example, the division once used to denote the availability of cell phone towers is now defined by access to high-speed Internet access. Lack of internet access means limited access to education, job opportunities, medical information and social communities.

The digital divide spans both developed and developing countries, but it also exists between urban and rural areas within countries. Globally, there are digital gaps between men and women, young and old, rich and poor, educated and less educated.

Examples of digital divide

During the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, traditional face-to-face teaching has been suspended around the world as classrooms have gone virtual. As a result, students without internet access are left behind. In 2020, at the start of the pandemic, approximately 16 million K-12 students in the United States did not have access to an internet-enabled device. Students from Southern states, especially students of color and low-income families, are less likely to have reliable internet access than their peers.

These inequalities can have devastating consequences throughout life. The UN estimates that school closures could cost the current generation of students a total of $17 trillion.People also rely heavily on the internet to schedule medical appointments, so being on the wrong side of the digital divide can lead to worse health outcomes.

While America’s digital divide has narrowed with falling electronics prices, nearly a quarter of adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year still don’t own a smartphone , and about 40% do not have a computer or broadband services at home. .

Causes of the digital divide

Limitations of communications technology include inadequate infrastructure, the availability of affordable personal electronic devices (smartphones, laptops, etc.) and the training required to use these devices. Teens who start using computers in elementary school (or earlier) are more likely to have the skills to surf the Internet than someone who didn’t grow up with the Internet.

Another reason for the digital divide is the lack of public investment in infrastructure. In many parts of the world, people have internet-enabled devices but no internet connection. Most of the cables used for international Internet communications are laid underwater to the ocean floor, so larger ocean-bound countries usually have superior Internet access.

The poorest countries in the South are also less likely to have access to the Internet. For example, in 2020, only around 40% of Africans had access to the web, compared to 65% of the global average.Compared to rural residents, more than 70% of urban residents worldwide have Internet access at home, and less than 40%.

Consequences of the digital divide

The internet was once considered a luxury; however, internet access and digital literacy are necessary to create wealth in today’s world. Businesses without an online presence cannot compete in the global economy. A growing number of jobs require computer skills, so those on the wrong side of the divide are at a distinct economic disadvantage.

The digital divide exacerbates existing social inequalities, such as the income gap between women and men. People with severe mental illness are less likely to be able to afford to use the internet, which can lead to social isolation and mental health issues, especially during pandemic quarantines.

The digital divide is not only a concern for the poorest countries. All nations will benefit from a better connected world. A study suggests that a mere 10% increase in broadband access in the United States will create 875,000 new jobs and $186 billion in additional economic output. If we estimate these numbers worldwide, closing the digital divide could add trillions of dollars to global GDP.

Bridging the digital divide

Equal access to the web is an essential part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN recommends that countries work together to invest in communications infrastructure and digital literacy programs. Private sector innovations such as Starlink (Starlink provides rural internet coverage via satellites) can also be crucial in bridging the digital divide.

For example, the United States recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which allocates $65 billion to bring high-speed Internet to rural and low-income Americans. States have similar programs in place. Texas, Alabama and Oklahoma provided laptops and Internet access to more than one million students.

Another vital issue is net neutrality, or the concept that everyone should access the web without restrictions or censorship. For example, net neutrality policies prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from creating fast lanes for certain businesses. Net neutrality legislation will be needed to ensure equitable access at the national level.

FAQs

  • What is the generational digital divide?

    Both younger and older generations may experience a digital divide due to their level of experience with technology. Young people who have grown up with the Internet have a high level of digital literacy. They can use all kinds of technologies and communicate. People new to technology later in life may need more guidance in getting to grips with it.

  • What is the connection between the digital divide and the knowledge gap hypothesis?

    The digital divide can contribute to or be part of the knowledge gap. The information deficit theory suggests that wealthier people have faster access to information from various media. People with fewer financial resources may not have the technology to find this information. This lack of access also means potentially missing an opportunity to develop digital literacy.


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What Is the Digital Divide?

Examining the need for broader access to technology

The digital divide describes the disparity between populations with access to modern communications technologies (cellphones, the internet, etc.) and those without access. This article explains what the digital divide is and its global consequences.

What Is the Digital Divide and Why Is It Important?

The exact definition of the digital divide has evolved alongside technological advancements. For example, the divide used to refer primarily to the availability of cellphone towers, but now the divide is defined by access to high-speed internet access. Lack of internet access means limited access to education, job opportunities, medical information, and social communities.

The digital divide spans developed and developing nations, but it also exists between urban and rural areas within countries. Globally, there are digital divides between men and women, the young and the old, the wealthy and the poor, and the educated and less educated.

Digital Divide Examples

During the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, traditional in-person educational instruction was suspended worldwide as classrooms went virtual. Consequently, students without internet access were left behind. In 2020, at the pandemic’s start, about 16 million K-12 students in the U.S. didn’t have access to an internet-enabled device. Students in southern states, particularly students of color and those from low-income families, are less likely to have reliable internet access than their peers.

These disparities can have devastating life-long consequences. The UN estimates that school closures could collectively cost $17 trillion in lost lifetime earnings for the current generation of students.People also rely heavily on the internet to set up medical appoints, so being on the wrong side of the digital divide can lead to poorer health outcomes.

Although the digital divide in the U.S. has narrowed as electronics have dropped in price, nearly a quarter of adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year still don’t own a smartphone, and about 40% do not have a computer or home broadband services.

Causes of the Digital Divide

Limitations to communications technology include inadequate infrastructure, the availability of affordable personal electronics (smartphones, laptops, etc.), and the education necessary to use those devices. Young people who started using computers in elementary school (or earlier) are more likely to possess the skills needed to navigate the internet than someone who didn’t grow up with the internet.

Another reason for the digital divide is the lack of government investment in infrastructure. In many parts of the world, people have internet-enabled devices, but there’s no internet connection available. Most of the cables for international internet communication are laid underwater on the ocean floor, so larger countries with ocean borders typically have superior internet access.

Poorer nations in the global south are also less likely to have internet access. For example, in 2020, only about 40% of Africans could access the web compared to the 65% global average.More than 70% of urban dwellers worldwide have home internet access compared to people in rural areas with less than 40% with internet access.

Consequences of the Digital Divide

The internet was once considered a luxury; however, internet access and digital literacy are necessary for building wealth in today’s world. Businesses without an online presence can’t compete in the global economy. An increasing number of jobs require computer skills, so those on the wrong side of the divide are at a distinct economic disadvantage.

The digital divide exacerbates existing social inequalities, such as the income gap between women and men. People with severe mental illness are less likely to have the tools to use the web, which can also result in social isolation and mental health challenges, especially during pandemic lockdowns.

The digital divide isn’t just a concern for poorer nations. All nations would benefit from a better-connected world. One study suggests that just a 10% increase in broadband access in the U.S. would result in 875,000 new jobs and $186 billion in additional economic output. If we extrapolate those numbers worldwide, closing the digital divide could add trillions of dollars to the global GDP.

Closing the Digital Divide

Equal access to the web is a critical element of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The U.N. recommends that countries collaborate to invest in communications infrastructure and digital literacy programs. Private sector innovations like Starlink (Starlink provides internet coverage to rural areas via satellites) could also be pivotal in narrowing the digital gap.

For example, the United States recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which allocates $65 billion to bring high-speed internet to rural and low-income Americans. States have implemented similar programs. Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma have provided laptops and internet access for over one million students.

Another vital issue is Net Neutrality or the concept that everyone should have access to the web with no restrictions or censorship. For example, Net Neutrality policies prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from creating fast lanes for certain companies. Net Neutrality legislation will be essential to ensuring fair access at the national level.

FAQ

What is a generational digital divide?
Younger and older generations may experience a digital divide based on experience level with technology. Young people who grew up with the internet have a high level of digital literacy. They can use and communicate through all kinds of technology. People learning technology later in life might need more guidance to become comfortable with it.

How are the digital divide and the knowledge gap hypothesis related?
The digital divide can add to or be a part of the knowledge gap. The knowledge gap theory suggests that wealthier people have more immediate access to information from various media. People with fewer financial resources might not have the technology to find this information. This lack of access also means potentially missing out on the chance to develop digital literacy. 

#Digital #Divide

What Is the Digital Divide?

Examining the need for broader access to technology

The digital divide describes the disparity between populations with access to modern communications technologies (cellphones, the internet, etc.) and those without access. This article explains what the digital divide is and its global consequences.

What Is the Digital Divide and Why Is It Important?

The exact definition of the digital divide has evolved alongside technological advancements. For example, the divide used to refer primarily to the availability of cellphone towers, but now the divide is defined by access to high-speed internet access. Lack of internet access means limited access to education, job opportunities, medical information, and social communities.

The digital divide spans developed and developing nations, but it also exists between urban and rural areas within countries. Globally, there are digital divides between men and women, the young and the old, the wealthy and the poor, and the educated and less educated.

Digital Divide Examples

During the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, traditional in-person educational instruction was suspended worldwide as classrooms went virtual. Consequently, students without internet access were left behind. In 2020, at the pandemic’s start, about 16 million K-12 students in the U.S. didn’t have access to an internet-enabled device. Students in southern states, particularly students of color and those from low-income families, are less likely to have reliable internet access than their peers.

These disparities can have devastating life-long consequences. The UN estimates that school closures could collectively cost $17 trillion in lost lifetime earnings for the current generation of students.People also rely heavily on the internet to set up medical appoints, so being on the wrong side of the digital divide can lead to poorer health outcomes.

Although the digital divide in the U.S. has narrowed as electronics have dropped in price, nearly a quarter of adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year still don’t own a smartphone, and about 40% do not have a computer or home broadband services.

Causes of the Digital Divide

Limitations to communications technology include inadequate infrastructure, the availability of affordable personal electronics (smartphones, laptops, etc.), and the education necessary to use those devices. Young people who started using computers in elementary school (or earlier) are more likely to possess the skills needed to navigate the internet than someone who didn’t grow up with the internet.

Another reason for the digital divide is the lack of government investment in infrastructure. In many parts of the world, people have internet-enabled devices, but there’s no internet connection available. Most of the cables for international internet communication are laid underwater on the ocean floor, so larger countries with ocean borders typically have superior internet access.

Poorer nations in the global south are also less likely to have internet access. For example, in 2020, only about 40% of Africans could access the web compared to the 65% global average.More than 70% of urban dwellers worldwide have home internet access compared to people in rural areas with less than 40% with internet access.

Consequences of the Digital Divide

The internet was once considered a luxury; however, internet access and digital literacy are necessary for building wealth in today’s world. Businesses without an online presence can’t compete in the global economy. An increasing number of jobs require computer skills, so those on the wrong side of the divide are at a distinct economic disadvantage.

The digital divide exacerbates existing social inequalities, such as the income gap between women and men. People with severe mental illness are less likely to have the tools to use the web, which can also result in social isolation and mental health challenges, especially during pandemic lockdowns.

The digital divide isn’t just a concern for poorer nations. All nations would benefit from a better-connected world. One study suggests that just a 10% increase in broadband access in the U.S. would result in 875,000 new jobs and $186 billion in additional economic output. If we extrapolate those numbers worldwide, closing the digital divide could add trillions of dollars to the global GDP.

Closing the Digital Divide

Equal access to the web is a critical element of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The U.N. recommends that countries collaborate to invest in communications infrastructure and digital literacy programs. Private sector innovations like Starlink (Starlink provides internet coverage to rural areas via satellites) could also be pivotal in narrowing the digital gap.

For example, the United States recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which allocates $65 billion to bring high-speed internet to rural and low-income Americans. States have implemented similar programs. Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma have provided laptops and internet access for over one million students.

Another vital issue is Net Neutrality or the concept that everyone should have access to the web with no restrictions or censorship. For example, Net Neutrality policies prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from creating fast lanes for certain companies. Net Neutrality legislation will be essential to ensuring fair access at the national level.

FAQ

What is a generational digital divide?
Younger and older generations may experience a digital divide based on experience level with technology. Young people who grew up with the internet have a high level of digital literacy. They can use and communicate through all kinds of technology. People learning technology later in life might need more guidance to become comfortable with it.

How are the digital divide and the knowledge gap hypothesis related?
The digital divide can add to or be a part of the knowledge gap. The knowledge gap theory suggests that wealthier people have more immediate access to information from various media. People with fewer financial resources might not have the technology to find this information. This lack of access also means potentially missing out on the chance to develop digital literacy. 

#Digital #Divide


Synthetic: Ôn Thi HSG

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