Overcoming Digital Divide

Overcoming Digital Divide

Overcoming Digital Divide

The world today requires us to have access to information to succeed in business and communication internationally. Failure to have access to information brings digital divide that tends to create margins between the “haves” and “have nots.” As the term suggests, the digital divide is the social and economic status division caused by the availability of technological knowhow in some places as opposed to others.  Regions, where governments are not able to fund start-ups for great technologies, might have their citizens left behind digitally (Huyer & Sikoska, 2003).  Factors that tend to intensify digital divide is age, the level of education and income. But although everyone has equal access to information, there is a gap that has been there and seems to continue with technological advancement as days go by.  The question according to critics such as Van Dijk (2005) is whether different people are on a common platform when it comes to the disbursement and use of Information Technology. The digital divide has been seen as stratification in the usage and access of information which is, of course, inevitable. This argument essay discusses the digital divide and how it can be overcome.

Countries ought to work together with an aim to improve the technology of developing countries in the world that seem to be left behind technology-wise. There seems to be a wide gap between those in the developed countries and those in the developing countries. One of the most effective ways to overcome this will, therefore, be the collaboration of different governments working together in association with private entities to invest in Information and Communication Technology. This will ensure increased use of computers and the internet all over the world. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia ought to be assisted in investing in technology.

Currently, the world is at a point where information is taken as the primary means of developing any product of all processes output. The intensity of information seems to increase as time passes. As this happens, those that appear to have access to first-hand information seem to have the upper hand over those who do not or receive information later. Those who do not receive information all are deemed as inferior to those who do. Van Dijk (2005) says that people who do not have access to information and communication technology are significantly disadvantaged and cannot be compared to their counterparts who have access to such (Barzilai-Nahon, 2006). This is because access to information has been seen as a matter of power control. Those who have access to information could control those who do not easily. Being technologically advanced is all about the question of economic, social, civil, and political participation. There are those people who will use their IT skills to their advantage to gain wealth.  Those without are left out in this. But at the same time, some might wrongly use their skills in technology and end up losing a lot of wealth. However, those with no such facilities and expertise do not stand a chance.

According to Waddell, (2009), the whole world is on the verge of competing for information which consequently expands the digital divide. This has resulted in a society where the people rich in information keep getting richer while those without keep suffering in adversity. They, therefore, occupy the bottom part of the power hierarchy due to lack of information. Norris, (2011) claims that just like wealth, food, status and housing in the society, technology is not equally distributed (Warschauer, 2014). There are those who benefit while others find themselves locked out. Those who do keep profiting exponentially while the other half keep on suffering in adversity.  This is because the digital divide has been strongly tied together to the social inequalities that are experienced all over the world.

The digital divide has been expressed as a dynamic and a complex phenomenon that encompasses almost everyone in the world. This has been intensified by the unequal access to the internet and computer data. This could be measured by the number of websites a certain society has access to, the skills they have in accessing data and the internet, the number of hours spent on manipulating and accessing data and the kind and amount of activities carried out through the web.

Those who have the upper hand are those who spend more hours on the internet, have more skills in accessing and manipulating data found on the internet, have means to access information and have a wider variety of activities carried out digitally. There are those at both the extreme ends of the digital divide. Those will abundant access to information and those with the least access to information. It has therefore been a matter of the “have’s” and the “have not’s.” the ones considered as being disadvantaged are either the ones with the least digital proficiency or those who poor economically or skill-wise.

By the end of 2015, only a third of the world’s population had access to the worldwide web. According to James, (2001), this shows not only intra-societal problems but a global problem. The affected countries had an enormous economic disadvantage. The quality of education, social services and quality of life is as well adversely affected.  The underlying effects of the digital divide, therefore, seems to be alienated to education, healthcare. Social services and the quality of life. The industries in such regions are unable to compete with their fellows in developed countries. It is evident that e-business has had a great impact companies’ profits over a long time. But countries that are not technologically advanced are not able to offer their industries with the required amenities to get into e-business. According to Fuchs & Horak, (2008), only 75% of the companies in the sub-Saharan Africa have telephone lines, and only 53% of them are connected to the internet.

Those who are rich in information end up being the employers, donors, and sponsors to those with limited or no access to information at all. This defines the power, status, and wealth of the two types of people in the society. These are the aspects that then define social stratification and the inevitable economic class formation.

The advanced countries and regions have been defined by their ability to access and control information at different levels. Many of these countries are those in the west and the east. The countries themselves compete for information since they understand the essence of having the upper hand in access of information. They make the best of the information resources they have. They have invested heavily in telecommunication to reap the most from it.  Countries that are unconnected face challenges that profoundly define why there is such a huge stratification and inequalities among its people.

Computer and Internet data access is divided into various forms that include material access, usage access, skill access, and motivational access. The four kinds of models are equally important and are relatively independent of each other (Dijk, 2005). Material access is defined by the ability of the population to buy or access internet connections and computers. The Internet might be viewed through different assets that might be owned by the family, school or work. The digital divide could be narrowed down if every member had access to the internet. This is because the ones who will get information first will make it cheaper to adopt for those who get it later. This has been experienced in the developed countries. But unfortunately, this has not been the case according to Gordon (2003). He says that having a society where everyone has access to the internet will result in a deeper divide since there are those who will be more skillful than others. It will result in usage access utilization, motivational access, and skill access utilization.

Usage access means utilization of the digital media that one has access to. Using the media in communication, making transactions and entertainment. The user might have access to internet and connectivity but fail to use the media as required. This might be influenced by personal reasons or due to other elements such as motivation and skill access.

Motivational access keeps the user going on with their continued use of the information available to them. It is a determinant of the amount of time spent by the user on computers and the internet. This at times is defined by the need to learn or by other elements such as the skill access.

Skill access is mostly defined by the exposure of the user to the gadgets available in accessing information. It comes after the physical and the motivational access. It relies on the ability of the user to operate different software and hardware. It is gained through having longer exposure to computers or working under a skilled person. It has always been the norm of information and technology to demand particular skills to operate since the olden days. The skills required might be strategic, informational, instrumental or digital skills.

The biggest portion of the causal model plainly shows that the distribution of the resource is determined by other elements such as the number of positional and personal categories. Then elements are directly responsible for the four successive kinds of access (Wade, 2012). This is because the digital divide has most of the data related to data that is fragmentary and confined to simple demographics.