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IT Analyst at Tata Consultancy Services
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Digital divide between generations - Does it exist?

Administration Shrugs, But Evidence Says "Yes"

The term 'digital divide' describes the fact that the world can be divided into people who do and people who don't have access to - and the capability to use - modern information technology, such as the telephone, television, or the Internet. It includes the imbalance both in physical access to technology and the resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen. Knowledge divide reflects the access of various social groupings to information and knowledge, typically gender, income, race, and by location.

The digital divide exists between those in cities and those in rural areas. For example, a 1999 study showed that 86% of Internet delivery was to the 20 largest cities. The digital divide also exists between the educated and the uneducated, between economic classes, and, globally, between the more and less industrially developed nations.

The second level digital divide, also referred to as the production gap, describes the gap that separates the consumers of content on the internet from the producers of content. As the technological digital divide is decreasing between those with access to the internet and those without, the meaning of the term digital divide is evolving. Previously, digital divide research has focused on accessibility to the internet and internet consumption. However, with more and more of the population with access to the internet, researchers are examining how people use the internet to create content and what impact socioeconomics are having on user behavior.

The global digital divide describes the Infotech disparities between different regions of the world in relation to generalised rates of social and technological development. One school of thought holds that, as the internet becomes progressively more sophisticated, the digital divide is growing, that those to whom it is least available are being left behind.

Hence concluding we can say that, Nobody believes that technology will be a quick-fix solution to poverty, but ensuring that underserved individuals and communities can access education and tools to improve the quality of their lives certainly appears to be a critical piece of the answer.

In my view, the fact that we have reached the halfway point in the diffusion of Internet access at home reinforces the need to seek policies to get the job done as quickly as possible. Rather than declaring victory and cutting back on efforts we should be refocusing efforts toward the acquisition of technologies at home. In fact, passing the halfway point marks a milestone in the public policy status of Internet access. It is beginning to look like a service that merits the status of worthy of universal service support.