What are the causes and consequences of the digital divide? To what extent is there a global dimension to this divide?
Is the divide narrowing or widening?
The digital divide marks the gap between those who have access and utilize Information communication technologies and those who lack access or ability (reference). Causes for this division have traditionally stemmed through economic circumstance. Due to the existing disproportions between countries economic situations, a large global dimension exists within the digital divide. Socio-demographic factors also significantly affect ones positioning on the spectrum of the digital divide. Through examination it becomes clear that the gap in some senses is showing signs of narrowing. On the other had however, these factors are enhancing the gap and widening the divide for some.
The increasing advancements within Information communication technologies and explosion of Internet possibilities within developed countries are leaving developing nations behind. The 21st century has not hindered concern surrounding this digital divide within international agencies such as the United Nations Development Program (Norris 2000). The disparities between developing societies and advanced are considered to be increasing and gap widening. This lends itself to putting countries at an economic advantage or disadvantage, leading to many flow-on effects. Poorer nations such as India, Africa, and southern parts of Asia have been in large, unable to invest in the internationally growing technologies, which would allow their nation to have and maintain Internet access, due to the initial start up investment necessary (Reference). A country not having Internet access in today’s digital age leads to a number of economic consequences. This can be highlighted through; schools being unable to educate or teach students IT skills, preventing them from taking advantage of the huge amounts of information accessible through the web. Therefore people are not growing up with the skills required to get ahead or keep up with this digital era. Ultimately this lack of IT skills results in the inability to compete within the global market or at an international level. Contrasting to this, richer countries are taking advantage of these advancing ICTs, benefiting from more highly trained people who will ultimately lead to higher economic growth (reference). At a fundamental level, this concept illustrates the significant consequences for countries without access to the ICTs and the way in which the revolution of these has allowed developed countries to gallop ahead of those developing who still lack access. In correlation to this divide, at the disadvantage of the poor, the rich get richer.
The digital divide works along side other forms of social inequality and is effecting people not only globally but with in a national sense also (Korupp & Szydlik 2005). It has been indicated that groups that are the most venerable in society are those who lack access to a computer. They run the risk of being excluded from possible social, educational, cultural and economic benefits. This may have adverse effects on their educational outcomes, employment prospects and other aspects of wellbeing (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003). These marginalized people have been deemed to fall into categories of; low income, elderly, lacking in education, and minorities (Winter 2000). The flow on effects of this proves to become more complex than one might initially perceive. Those who are able to afford access to the most advanced technologies and efficient versions are able to capitalize on their existence. Findings support, in 1998, households with an income of $75,000 and above, were nine time as likely to have computer access, and twenty times more likely to have internet access than those of lower income levels (Norris 2000). This disparity can lead to increasing divides in an economic sense as mentioned, but also in...
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