Digital Divide: Building a Bridge

The “digital divide” is defined as the lack of access to ICT (information and communications technology) due to restrictions caused by geographic or socioeconomic limitations.

The role of ICT in the workplace and education is rising rapidly as developments in technology allow for innovations in communication, management, and learning. However, the influencing factors of the technology gap restricts individuals, communities, and regions who are unable to obtain computers or sufficient internet connection.

A portion of the global population has the privilege of reaping the benefits of the advancing digital age while others are left behind because of their circumstances.

Influencing Limitations of the Digital Divide

The gap can’t be closed without proactive intentions to remedy the socioeconomic divisions that are keeping rural, underprivileged, elderly, and disabled individuals out of the loop.

It’s also important to note that the gap does not only consider access to electronics and internet (or lack thereof) but is also affected by the quality of the devices and connection if available.

Out-of-date or low-quality devices may not be able to support software needed to perform a task. Furthermore, internet speed affects media access such as call and streaming quality, which are essential to productivity.

  • Socioeconomic limitations
    • Levels of education and household income is correlated with access to digital resources. Insufficient access to ICT learning tools inhibits the learning opportunities of students and children in low-income areas. Individuals who cannot afford smartphones are also at a disadvantage since it keeps them disconnected from opportunities that could otherwise be accessed by those who can have internet through their phones.
  • Location limitations
    • According to Pew Research, 63% of rural Americans have a broadband connection but those areas still lack the necessary infrastructure to get high-speed internet. Additionally, due to differences in urban versus rural lifestyles, rural residents may consider technology access to be a low priority.
  • Usability limitations
    • Technology illiteracy and disabilities prevent potential users from using ICT even if provided the chance. The ability to perform a simple search and use email effectively have become essential to everyday life. With the rise of e-commerce, online learning, and virtual meetings this usability divide needs to be addressed to minimize participation inequality.

Narrowing the Technology Gap

  • Public access
  • Recognizing technology as a necessity
  • Refurbished low-cost equipment

Public Access

Access to community centers (such as public computer labs) is an excellent resource for those who do not have their own access to ICT. Many schools and libraries offer technology centers for public use.

Recognizing Technology as a Necessity

Public attitude towards technology can make a difference in narrowing the gap by changing our view of ICT from a privilege to a necessity. Perceiving electronics and high-speed internet as a luxury rather than essential tools will only prolong the divide.

Refurbished Low-cost Equipment

Refurbished devices are inspected, tested, and repaired for quality and sold for a fraction of the original price. This makes purchasing refurbished assets effective for both cost and functionality, allowing members of all socioeconomic levels access to recent models of electronics, such as laptops, at a much more affordable price.

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