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The digital divide is a term that has been thrown around a lot lately. However, not many people know what the digital divide is or how it affects us as computer users. There are many definitions of the digital divide itself but few really delve into what it is in reality. Sure you can read a book definition of a word or phrase but sometimes those definitions don’t make sense. I’m here to try to explain in simple terms what the digital divide is and how it affects you and me.
What is the digital divide? Whatis.com defines it as:
“The term digital divide describes the fact that the world can be divided into people who do and people who dont have access to – and the capability to use – modern information technology, such as the telephone, television, or the Internet. The digital divide exists between those in cities and those in rural areas. The term digital divide describes the fact that the world can be divided into people who do and people who dont have access to – and the capability to use – modern information technology, such as the telephone, television, or the Internet. The digital divide exists between those in cities and those in rural areas.” (Whatis.com)
I’m sure you have had a scenario where you walk into your grandparent’s house to find the VCR blinking 12:00. You ask why they have not changed the time to the real time and they reply, “We don’t know how.” This is because they did not grow up with VCRs and as the saying goes; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Why is this a problem? Who cares if old people can’t fix the time on the VCR? It’s because age is not the only barrier on the digital divide. Income is a huge factor in the digital divide. According to a U.S. Census Bureau Survey:
“24 percent of people without high school diplomas and 37 percent of low-income people are interested in using the computer to obtain product information. This compares to 64 percent of college graduates and 69 percent of those earning more than $50,000 per year. Hardly any lower-income households have a computer (7 percent), in comparison to those making between $30,000 and $50,000 (32 percent). Of those making over $50,000, usage increases to 53 percent. Households earning more than $75,000 are 10 times more likely to be surfing the Net than those making less than $30,000 per year. Most Americans know what this will lead to: 59 percent say divisions between those who understand the new technology and those who do not will be a serious problem in 25 to 50 years.” (Tapscott 259)
Since this country is becoming more and more technologically advanced and a lot more reliant on technology people who are now in a smaller income house will have a hard time ever seeing a new income bracket as they will not have the skills necessary to get into a high or medium paying job. There is, however, some hope as “the average price of a fully