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The Digital Divide
AS Applied ICT – Unit 1
The Information Age
Objectives
• To review the factors that cause and influence
the digital divide and discuss its impact
• To quantify the extent of the digital divide and
discuss measures being taken to narrow the
gap
• To discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the
digital divide
Introduction
• It is easy to forget that we don’t all have
access to ICT resources
• The digital divide refers to the gap between
the people who have access to a computer (or
a computer connected to the internet) and
those who do not.
• It can refer to individuals, social groups, and
communities worldwide.
5 Factors which contribute to the
digital divide:
Geographical
Fear of
technology
Lack of
motivation
Social
Economic
Digital
Divide
Cultural
The Economic Factor
• The main reason individuals and communities
don’t have access to a computer or an up-todate Internet service are economic
– i.e. A lack of money
• Many developing countries struggle to provide
adequate telephone lines
• PC hardware and software is simply too
expensive for many people in the developing
world
The Economic Factor
A lack of money
means there is no ICT
Infrastructure
The community
becomes even poorer
Companies are unable
to compete effectively
in the market place
The number of
employment
opportunities in the
area reduces
Businesses move
away from the
community
Companies do not
invest in the
community
The Social Factor
• Originally, the digital divide was attributed to
Internet Access
• Now, most people have access to the Internet
thanks to libraries, and Internet cafes etc.
• We now think about the digital divide as those
who do, and those who don’t have the skills to
use the internet appropriately
The Social Factor
• Many of today’s jobs require ICT skills and
qualifications
• People without an education in ICT are at a
disadvantage and are unable to get work
• This is another example of a digital divide
The Geographical Factor
• Availability of the Internet throughout the
world shows large differences between world
regions: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
• This can be a result of
– Lack of internet access/infrastructure
– Language
– Culture
The Fear of Technology Factor
• Many people do not use technology because
they:
– Are not confident in their own ability to use
computer skills
– Fear that others will laugh at their attempts,
therefore it is easier not to try
– Think they will cause a computer problem as they
experiment and therefore prefer not to try
– Have heard or read news reports about computer
fraud, Internet scams and identity theft
The Lack of Motivation Factor
• Many people are not prepared to put in the
time and effort to learn something new
• Some people link ICT with useless activities
such as computer game playing, eyes damage,
and other more sinister themes
• Modern Operating Systems (Windows,
MacOS) are much easier to use than they
were 15 years ago, however they still require a
certain amount of effort to grasp.
The Cultural Factor
• Attitudes: Some groups of people feel that ICT is
for particular groups of people:
– The young
– The brainy
– Middle class
• Cultural attitudes: Some communities place
greater importance on:
–
–
–
–
Oral culture
Personal communication
Kinship
Strong family values
The extent of the Digital Divide
• The digital divide is a world wide issue, and is not
just related to the gap between people with and
without access internet.
• Other contributing factors include:
–
–
–
–
–
Lower-spec PCs
Low quality internet connections
Higher-priced Internet connections
Difficulty with obtaining technical assistance
Being a member of a community speaking a minority
language
– Lower access to subscriber content
Is the divide widening or narrowing?
• http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/
nov/04/government-digital-divide
• In Britain, efforts are being made to bridge the
gap – but are they successful?
• On a global level?
Benefits and drawbacks
• Pros
– Increased opportunities for personal, educational
and employment advancement
• Cons
– Expensive
– Technology is outdated very quickly
– Government cut backs due to recession