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The Digital Divide Essay

1228 words - 5 pages

It can be shown through research that there is a digital divide in the United States and across the globe. The basic concept of the digital divide has to do with the "haves" and the "have nots". It refers to the gap between people with effective access to digital information technology and those without the access. There are many surveys that compare the computer use of those in the United States with the rest of the world, and there is evidence to suggest that the digital divide is partly based on socioeconomic, racial, generational, or geographical reasons. The term global divide refers to the digital divide between countries (Wikipedia, 2008). High-speed connections will enhance a nation's productivity and economic competitiveness, improve education, and expand health care options for patients and doctors. In addition, access to high-speed networks can erase geographic, economic, and cultural gaps. With high-speed connections, workers can find jobs, small businesses can participate in global markets, rural doctors can consult with specialists, and students can take classes that are taught from across the globe. This paper will highlight where the digital divide is most prevalent, some reasons for the reduced access, and what we can do as IT professionals to help close the gap.Computer use first started to be tracked by the US Census Bureau in 1984 when it was noted that 8.2% of households in the US had a computer. Internet use did not start to be tracked until 1997 when 36.6% of the households reported computers with only 18% having access to the internet. By 2003, the numbers grew rapidly to 61.8% and 54.7% respectively (US Census Bureau, 2003). The growth of the digital network in the US has been fast, but there is evidence to show there is a digital divide. Households with incomes of $75,000 or more are nine times more likely to have a computer for home use and 20 times more likely to have access to the internet. The economic divide can loosely be tied along racial lines since compared to Caucasians; minorities are three times as likely to be poor. It can be argued that minorities are significantly disadvantaged by the digital divide due to their decreased access to computer and internet use in the area of education. In 1997, only 21% of Black high school students used a computer in their home compared to 61% of White students (Autumn, 1999). This 40% gap is significant because it has everlasting affects. Decreased access can have huge impacts on a student's ability to gain admission to a college. To illustrate, a student with a computer at home can take advantage of numerous software programs to help them prepare for the Scholastic Assessment Test. In addition, they will also be more efficient in preparing homework assignments leaving more time to study for tests and participate in extracurricular activities which might allow them a slight advantage in competing for scholarships. This is not strictly a Black and White issue because it can...

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