Sociology Index

Digital Divide

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has said the dominance of internet giants is a "fad" that does not have to endure, and that urgent change was needed to improve a digital divide in young people's online access. The aim of “closing the digital divide” now refers to efforts to provide meaningful access to Internet infrastructures, applications and services. There are many definitions of the digital divide, which is evidenced by related concepts like digital inclusion, digital participation, digital skills, and digital accessibility.

There are hundreds of alternative ways to define the digital divide. The desired impact and the end justifies the definition of the digital divide. Digital divide stems from poverty and the economic and other barriers that limit resources and prevent people from obtaining or otherwise using newer technologies. The digital divide is the gap between those able to benefit from the digital age and those who are not able to. President Biden's infrastructure proposal aims to close the digital divide with $100 Billion to Fix It.

Studies show that women are less likely to know how to leverage devices and Internet access to their full potential, even when they do use digital technologies. Due to the rapidly declining price of connectivity and hardware, skills deficits have eclipsed barriers of access as the primary contributor to the gender digital divide. A study found that the majority of women in India who owned mobile phones only knew how to answer calls. They could not dial numbers or read messages without assistance from their husbands, due to a lack of literacy and numeracy skills.

There is the concern that people without access to the Internet and other information and communication technologies will be disadvantaged. Because of digital divide in young people's online access, they are unable or less able to obtain digital information, shop online, participate democratically, or learn skills and offer skills. Digital divide has resulted in programs to give computers and related services to people without access. Since the 1990s, a potent global movement, including a series of intergovernmental summit meetings, were conducted to "close the digital divide". Since then, this movement formulated solutions in public policy, technology design, finance and management that would allow all connected citizens to benefit equitably as a global digital economy spreads into the far corners of the world population.

Digital Divide was originally coined to refer merely to the matter of access, who is connected to the Internet and who is connected to the Internet. The term digital-divide has evolved to focus on the division between those who benefit from Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and those who do not. The matter of closing the digital divide nowadays includes the matter of how emergent technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, robotics and Internet of things can help the society. Internet can harm as well as help citizens. The focus should be on closing the digital divide. Digital divide can impact a growing digital economy.

Global digital divide examines technological gap between developing and developed countries on an international scale. The divide, such as the digital divide in the United States, may refer to inequalities between individuals, families, businesses, or geographic areas, usually at different socioeconomic levels or other demographic categories.

The US-based National Digital Inclusion Alliance, draws conclusions based on their particular answers to these questions, and defined that for them, it implies: 1) affordable, robust broadband Internet service; 2) Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user; 3) access to digital literacy training; 4) quality technical support; 5) applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration.

The digital divide measured in terms of bandwidth is not closing, but fluctuating up and down. Gini coefficients for telecommunication capacity among individuals worldwide. The nature of digital divide has been measured in terms of the existing numbers of subscriptions and digital devices. Given the increasing number of such devices, some have concluded that the digital divide among individuals has increasingly been closing as the result of a natural and almost automatic process. Recent studies have measured the digital divide not in terms of technological devices, but in terms of the existing bandwidth per individual.

Measurement methodologies of the digital divide, and more specifically an Integrated Iterative Approach General Framework (Integrated Contextual Iterative Approach – ICI) and the digital divide modeling theory under measurement model DDG (Digital Divide Gap) are used to analyze the gap existing between developed and developing countries, and the gap among the 27 members-states of the European Union.

Research shows that the digital divide is more than just an access issue and cannot be alleviated merely by providing the necessary equipment. There are at least three factors at play: information accessibility, information utilization, and information receptiveness. Individuals need to know how to make use of the information and communication tools once they exist within a community. Information professionals have the ability to help bridge the digital divide gap by providing reference and information services to help individuals learn and utilize the technologies to which they do have access, regardless of the economic status of the individual seeking help.

Coronavirus and the widening educational digital divide: The perfect storm for inequalities?
by Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin, J. Mark Munoz, and Thierry Warin
Many troubling issues remain unanswered – are students who are suddenly forced into online education prepared for it? Do all have access to a high-speed internet connection? Do all possess suitable computers to allow them to succeed? Do students belonging to wealthier families have an unfair advantage over the poorer families since they have more tech equipment? Are we experiencing a digital divide in education, which can be even beyond the traditional societal dimensions?