Digital divide and digital equity are two concepts that go hand in hand. Digital divide refers to the gap between those who are able to have access, opportunities, and benefits to digital tools and the internet and those who do not. Digital equity refers to the equal access to digital tools. When I think about these concepts, I think back to how there is a wide technological gap and it is only increasing more and more. I have only started to really realize how terrible this gap is, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the pandemic, the majority turned to technology to continue business, but many others, especially in developing countries, are still struggling to communicate with others because of the digital inequality.
Besides the bigger point, being in America and experiencing first hand what it feels like to be in a digital divide is terrifying. I was always relying on my internet and technology through my educational institution and didn’t have to be at home if I didn’t want to. But ever since the pandemic, I quickly had to think of how I would possibly be able to join in on classes, turn assignments in and connect with what I thought was going to be fine for me. In this week’s article, “Digital Divide and Social Media: Connectivity Doesn’t End the Digital Divide, Skills do,” it discusses, “…new types of divides in the social Web context, such as the connectivity inequalities — high-speed wireless for those who can afford it and second-class wireless for poor and rural Americans have been mentioned as a ‘new digital divide,’” (Radovanovic, 2011).
I completely understand that there are others that don’t even have the access and opportunity as myself, but reading about how there are new types of divides forming because of the fast pace in technological growth proves my point in the digital inequality. It is a very serious issue that is happening in America today. I found this article that discusses “59% of U.S. parents with lower incomes say their child may face digital obstacles in schoolwork,” by Emily A. Vogels. She discusses how low-income communities are facing remote learning challenges and how that will later result in different types of gaps. Classwork, homework, social connections, technological gaps. “37% of U.S. adults said in spring (2020) that the federal government has a responsibility to ensure all Americans have a high-speed internet connection at home during the outbreak,” (Vogels, 2020). I agree that the government should step in and try to find a solution for the digital inequality that America is facing right now. It is an essential at this point.
An article written by Karen Mracek called, “What Is the Impact of the Digital Divide?” discusses how “Those Who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide — including low income people, those with less formal education, rural populations, the elderly and the older workers, and minorities — suffer further economic, social, health, and political disparities resulting from disconnection,’” (Mracek, 2018). Limiting someone’s access to digital technologies may impact one’s ability to participate and engage with others. It limits them from having any type of communication, especially in today’s time where digital technology has become a necessity in which to communicate with others.
Aleph Molinari’s Ted Talk does a great job of explaining what the digital divide is and its statistics on the technological gap!