The Digital Divide in US seems to be decreasing due to increase in the use of internet and awareness about the benefits of the technology. Moreover the US government is providing internet access to poor areas of the countries. This can be asserted from the fact that there are 2 million new internet users each month in US. (Dickard, 2002, pg. 1) But at the same time the technological divide between the ethnic groups is still there. The internet access to blacks and Hispanics is half that of Whites and Asians.
This is because Hispanics come from poor backgrounds with less income and less access to education. Therefore they lack the basic computer skills to take avail the opportunities of the technological age. However realizing the great potential market that Hispanics provide, marketers are now focusing their attention on this segment and this has resulted in high internet penetration among Hispanics. Yet, affordability and skills to use the technology still remains a problem for this segment.
The level of education is also an important factor in US in distinguishing between digital haves and haves not. Only a few of the people from those who didn’t pass high school had internet access but nearly half of the graduates have the digital access and this figure increases with the levels of qualifications. The level on income also has an impact. According to a study only 25% of the poor US households are online compared to 80% of the rich households. (Whipp, 2005) Digital Divide in the World There is wide digital divide between rich and poor nations of the world.
The western world including America, Europe and other northern states have wide access to information technology whereas this access is limited in southern regions of the world like Africa, India, Pakistan and other regions of South Asia. The reason for this digital divide among then nations is that the poor nations are already burdened with multiple economic and social problems like debt, hunger, poor health and education structure and therefore cannot benefit from the technological advancements. These countries cannot afford the high cost of investment in technology and its maintenance.
Their already limited resources are spent in fulfilling their basic needs. (Ryder, 2003) However economic aspect is not the only cause of digital divide issue. The education levels and illiteracy is another explanation for the digital gap. Third world countries lack the skills to use the digital technology due to poor educational background. Majority of the people in this part of the world are illiterate and want easy solutions to their problems and often find the new technology too confusing and complex to use. (Rossi, 2007)
The digital gap also exists because people do not take full advantage of the technology even if they can afford it and are literate enough to use it. They are simply not interested to use it. For example many people still prefer to go to physical stores for shopping even though online shopping option saves them money and time. (Nielsen, 2006) Bridging the Digital Divide One major solution to narrow down the digital gap is to reduce cost of technology which includes setup cost and maintenance costs and also the prices of PCs.
This would result in more people having access to information and technology as they would be able to afford the access to internet. Another factor which is important is the development of technology skills and increasing technology literacy so that people know how to use the technology in right way even if they can afford it. But this can only be done if basic literacy is given through proper education structure. Another solution is providing content for users that are far away from technological access like Hispanics and South Asians.
There is very little content online for many minority groups. Not only providing content for such users but also content that is in their local language. (Carvin, 2000) Many third world countries who are already struggling for basic needs do not welcome technology as they do not see it providing their basic needs and instead find it complex. To overcome this technology must be implemented so that it can help in their development and addresses their basic needs. Savishinsky, 2000) Overcoming this global digital gap is just not the role of one group. Public and Private organizations and NGOs need to work together to bridge the gap. Government needs to provide basic education structure to improve the literacy levels and also provide opportunities for technological investments. Private organizations and NGOs need to help in providing digital access to rural areas where people cannot afford the technology and are not mastered enough to use.
They can do this by funding schools and households and proving basic technological skills. Role of IT Companies and Professionals IT companies and professionals can play an important role in bridging the digital gap. IT companies can focus on providing technology in low income and low literacy areas of their society. This can be done by providing technological devices at lower costs. Also IT professionals can train local people in using the technology and create high quality content that caters to the needs of the community.
Conclusion Digital Divide is one of the greatest challenges faced by the governments of the world. On one side information and technology is helping the part of a society that afford digital access but on the other hand the other part of society is continuously being deprived of the benefits of technology. Digital Divide due to economic and educational divide seems to be widening. Therefore steps must be taken to narrow this gap so that everyone can utilize the benefits of the new digital age.