What is the digital divide, and what impact does it have locally and globally?
To better understand what the digital divide refers to, I invite you to watch the following video:
He mentions that not all people have access or the privilege to connect to the Internet, thus creating gaps in which knowledge, experiences, and the great benefits that technology brings us are lost. As we know, technology is essential in everyday life. This is because, to communicate with others, study, for entertainment, and to be part of globalization through the information that we can find on the Internet.
The impact that it has at the local level is an impressive inequality of possibilities in personal, social and labor areas. If you do not have good preparation, getting a good job will be difficult, leading us to be the opposite of privileged. Therefore it will be the path is more complicated.
And globally, it can be observed in the development of each country, and each one has a different level of technology and possibilities.
What is an unearned privilege, and how does it affect access and use of technology?
We can say that an unearned privilege is any aspect that you already have just by being born as you already are, in the country where you were born, in the family you come from, which translates into different variants that can give you a privilege for Being a man, being white-skinned, having money, being born in a free country. You don’t really have to do anything to earn that privilege. You already have it.
As Ferguson (2014) tells us in his article Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide. ¨We do not use the term “privilege” because we do not believe that everyone deserves this treatment. Instead, we call privilege “privilege” because we recognize that not everyone experiences it.
Now if we take this term to the world of technology, we realize that, to a large extent, most of us live in a privilege that we take for granted. Still, if we open our eyes to the harsh reality, not all people even have access to have a smartphone, tablet, computer, or pay for Internet from home, which creates a big gap between the human being and technology because not having access, they lose many opportunities for learning, work, entertainment, knowledge, among others. Many others.
How do race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, etc., affect access to and use of technology? What barriers exist?
Regarding privileges, the main barrier is definitely access to technology, money or the economic classes to which people belong determine how much they can access. According to the study “Barriers to digital equity in Canada,” published in 2019, 17% of the population does not have Internet at home due to the high costs that this generates.
As well as in this same study, it shares that the majority of the people who participated in the survey use their cell phones to access the Internet, more than half use a cell phone and laptop, and less than half use a desktop computer. ¨Respondents told us that the high cost of devices such as computers was a barrier to access¨.
One of the benefits that the Internet has is that it does not matter what race, gender, or sexuality you practice as long as you have access. However, this does not happen all over the world, and there are countries where women do not have rights. Therefore they do not have the freedom to use the technologies. Another example is North Korea, where the Internet is highly controlled and monitored by the government.
In the current Covid-19 crisis, what kind of barriers are being identified in areas of Canada in terms of the digital divide?
With this pandemic, we realized the magnitude of the digital divide that exists, having to learn and work from home. Not all people were prepared for this situation, and some found technology challenging, mainly adults watching technology grow like a monster, to hear and see each other in zoom meetings.
Not to mention in the educational field, where not all homes had the technological means or the Internet to connect and continue learning from home, or did have them, but some families found it challenging to access the technology tools that they needed.
This experience made us realize that technology is essential today. And how important it is to work so that they decrease and everyone has access to this opportunity.
How can these problems be challenged? Who is responsible for making the change, and how? Be sure to build on examples at the government level, NGO support, etc.
- Gomez, M., De la Torre, I. (2021). They list a series of the main challenges for overcoming digital gaps, such as:
- Guarantee access to the Internet to a good connection and access to equipment Necessary.
- Fostering the development of basic digital skills and competencies. So as well as competencies that allow for greater autonomy in the management of procedures for daily life.
- Accessibility and usability: Guaranteed access through the participation of people in the design of technological solutions.
- Political advocacy: Effective compliance with accessible technology regulations.
Suppose the government and schools work as a team. In that case, much could be done to reduce this barrier by having well-equipped schools where everyone has the same opportunity to access technology and teachers seek to promote the best possible way. Use for this means a space is created in which everyone can explore and use Technologies, favoring work during school hours and avoiding leaving homework that involves connectivity because, as we have seen, not everyone has these tools at home.
We must be aware of the privilege that all of us reading this Blog have since we have what it takes to access technology, which, as we saw in this text, not everyone can.
For this reason, I invite you to use these means correctly, to take advantage of them and exploit them for your benefit and that of the people who surround you. And if it is within your possibilities, do something to eliminate the existing gap. For example, share your Internet with your neighbors who cannot pay for it. If each of us did something to help those who do not have access to possibilities, we could contribute to reducing the gap.