Digitally Divided By Choice – Or Is The Digital Divide Misrepresented?

from the who-do-you-trust dept

It seems that for every study saying the digital divide is no big deal and/or getting smaller, we have another one that says the opposite. Over in the UK, a new study says that the digital divide isn’t really an issue because most of the people who aren’t on the internet have made the conscious decision not to participate – and that they know they could have access if they wanted it. Some of them have “proxy users” – often family members they can ask to get some information off the internet for them. Of course, the many reasons given for avoiding the internet can basically be summed up that they’re afraid based on various horror stories they’ve heard and they’re doing just fine offline. Meanwhile, back in the US, a researcher is re-analyzing old data that was used in a study saying that the digital divide is shrinking and says the data says no such thing. Of course, it should be no surprise that people can take the same set of statistics and spin them into completely opposite stories. The article explains how the original study may have been misleading in trumpeting the higher percentage of low income households going online. Since the percentage online was so small, it didn’t take very many more going online to look like a rapid increase – when, in fact, it suggests that there’s still quite a long way to go before poorer households have the same level of online access.

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Comments on “Digitally Divided By Choice – Or Is The Digital Divide Misrepresented?”

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David Brake (user link) says:

It's up to us to change their minds...

If people who are not online don’t see the value to them it probably doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit – they just haven’t learned how yet. Governments and civil society organizations need to focus on solving the ‘why’ as well as the how problem. I’ve posted much more on this issue including further links here.

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