CONCEPT OF DIDITAL DIVIDE AND METHODS TO OVERCOME THE BRIDGE The term “digital divide” refers to the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socio-economic levels with regard both to their opportunities to access information and communication technologies (ICTs) and to their use of the Internet for a wide variety of activities. The digital divide reflects various differences among and within countries. The ability of individuals and businesses to take advantage of the Internet varies significantly across the OECD area as well as between OECD and nonmember countries. Access to basic telecommunications infrastructures is fundamental to any consideration of the issue, as it precedes and is more widely available than access to and use of the Internet.
The so-called “digital divide” raises a number of questions. Where does it occur and why? What are its causes? How is it to be measured? What are the relevant parameters? What is its extent, that is, how wide is the digital divide? Where is it most critical? What are its effects likely to be in the short term? In the longer term? What needs to be done to alleviate it? These questions have only recently been raised, and it is not possible, as yet, to answer all of them with any certainty. Because of the current interest in these issues, both among governments and the public, the OECD has begun efforts to measure the digital divide. In addition to communications infrastructures, important indicators appear to be computer availability – and potentially the availability of alternative access through TVs or mobile phones – and Internet access (these are “readiness” indicators). The digital divide among households appears to depend primarily on two variables, income and education. Other variables, such as household size and type, age, gender, racial and linguistic backgrounds and location also play an important role. The differences in PC and Internet access by household income are...
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