Question:

What is the digital divide?

Bridging the Digital Divide

The digital divide is a socio-political concerned with the economic gap between communities that have access to computers and the Internet and those who do not. The term also refers to gaps that exist between groups' abilities to information technologies due to differing levels of literacy and technical skills, and to the gap that exists between groups who have access to useful digital content and those who do not.

The problem is often discussed in an international context, indicating that certain countries, such as the United States, are far more equipped than other developing countries to take advantage of the Internet and other information technologies. While this is true in many cases, the digital divide within the United States and other developed countries is quite significant, too.

Digital Divide

Researchers report that disadvantages affecting people on the downside of the digital divide include both a lack of access to computers and the Internet, as well as lower-performance computers, lower-quality or highly priced connections, scarce technical assistance, and less access to subscription-based contents. Even these are become less of an issue, however, as broadband Internet penetration continues.

A divide in computer skills and literacy remains, as does a need for people to step up and address the problem. This creates opportunities for both nonprofit organizations and computer literate individuals to promote computer education and work to close the digital divide.

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Barbara Gibson