Monday, October 22, 2012

Where do you stand when it comes to the digital divide?

How are you affected by the digital divide?
Chelsea Markel

What is a digital divide and why it is relevant to you...

The article Digital Divide or Participation Gap? Will Mobile Affect it? written by Kevin Guidry was highly informative and can be helpful to readers who are looking to gain clarity on what the innovation of technology means for the individual. Kevin opens the article with a discussion on the various market forces that drive this technology innovation and collaboration. Kevin explains that there are financial and social forces that are responsible for moving the evolution of technology forward.

Kevin then goes on to discuss and define the idea of a digital divide. This digital divide is what contributes to the difference in internet usage among different groups of people. The digital divide is responsible for the inequity that exists among different Universities in regard to how many students have their own computer. The article states that the more affluent Universities have shown a higher ownership rate of computers among their students. The digital divide exists everywhere and affects every individual differently, depending on your ethnicity, gender and other demographics and factors.

This graph shows how the digital divide is affecting different people and cultures globally. This graphic is a clear representation of which countries are suffering the most from the digital divide. 

I found numerous connections between Kevin Guidry's article and the article that I read this week. One substantial connection that I made between these two articles was the significance of ethnicity in determining what type of mobile user an individual is. Demographics is a factor that is discussed in both articles and both state that ethnicity is a huge factor in what type of mobile user a person is. 
This graph explains the U.S. smartphone penetration based on ethnicity. This graph is a great representation of which ethnic groups in America are affected by the digital divide. 

The next level of digital divide is the participation gap... 

The article then goes into discussing the term participation gap and explains what this term means to individuals of a particular culture and group. The participation gap is the next level of the digital divide. The participation gap refers to the differences among people who have unlimited access to the internet versus the people who only have this access via the ability of their school or library. There is a huge gap in these two groups of people and having access to the internet is almost a requirement now for individuals in order to be successful. Additionally, the ability to understand and use social networks is critical to an individuals success in the workplace and in other areas of their life. 

So... does America have a digital divide or a participation gap? 

After reading these two pieces discussing the digital divide and the participation gap, I believe that America absolutely has instances of both happenings. Americas populace ranges from extremely rich to extremely poor, full and unlimited access to the internet and technology devices to situations where internet access is completely impossible. The digital divide in America can be observed in the statistics and facts about the demographics of owns different technology devices and what their reasons are for their device usage. This digital divide is absolutely prominent in this country and can be noted in different situations every day in mostly every place across the country. Furthermore, I believe that a participation gap exists in America as well. The participation gap can be observed in the difference in education in America. More affluent schools have different learning objectives and required materials than a school with a lower tuition and less of a reputation to uphold. The education differences and the different levels of student access to education materials can be found when comparing many different schools in the US. 

What does this mean for the mobile audiences in the future? 

The technology industry continues to evolve and new technology devices are introduced to the market almost on a monthly basis. The trend to have the latest technology and up to date services is a growing demand in America for internet and cell phone users. Mobile audiences want their information now and  look for a convenient way to receive this information. Many mobile users opt to use their mobile devices as a way of receiving their news information and finding trending articles due to the accessibility that cell phones allow for their users. Other mobile audience members find that using their laptops and other technologies is the best way for them to receive their information. It all boils down to accessibility, connivence and user friendliness. 

The future for mobile audiences is bright if you are a part of a group that has access to obtaining and utilizing these technologies. For people who are cell phone users and internet users, you will be able to continue to evolve and develop along with your smart phone technology. New products with faster and even more efficient services will be offered to you. Will you take advantage of these new capabilities? On the other hand, if you are a part of a group that is disadvantaged due to the participation gap and the digital divide then you have some catching up to do. Maximize the amount of internet usage you obtain by participating in school activities and local opportunities through educational experiences to achieve greater usage and understanding of what technologies exist and why they are vital to success in the 21st century. 

Overall, I believe that the digital divide and the participation gap will always be huge issues in America and globally. The huge differences along the social stratus exist and have always contributed to issues in equality and amount of accessibility for many different groups within the populace. Focus on bringing technology to every student and every learning individual is a great goal to have and mission for the technology industry to take on in the future. 

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