What Is the Digital Divide, and Which Side Are You On?

MakeUseOf | 6/17/2019 | Bertel King, Jr.
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There’s a border that runs right through the center of the internet. On one side, there’s everyone with access to a high-speed internet connection. On the other, there are those of us who wrestle with slow speeds, data limits, or the inability to get internet at all.

This border is known as the digital divide. One side has access to all the excitement that happens online and the economic growth that goes with it. The other is far less visible and, in many ways, getting left behind.

Digital - Divide

What Is the Digital Divide?

The digital divide refers to the unequal access to information communication technologies, and the knowledge necessary to use them, between people, regions, demographic groups, and economic groups.

Divide - Scales - City - Region - State

The digital divide is possible to observe at various scales. You can look at a city, a region, a state, a country, or the entire world. I’m going to focus on the US. Despite being one of the most connected countries on the planet, America’s digital divide remains quite stark.

Factors Impacting the Digital Divide in the US:

Location - Urban - Suburban - Areas - Broadband

Location: Urban and Suburban areas are more likely to have broadband access (though many urban residents rely on limited mobile data plans, rather than cable or fiber). Many rural residents can only purchase dial-up or satellite. There are also regional differences. In general, the Northeast and the West Coast have a higher degree of internet access than the South or Appalachia.

Race: Americans of Asian descent and White Americans are most likely to have high-speed internet access. Hispanic, Black, and Native Americans are less likely.

Income - Americans - Internet - Access - Americans

Income: Affluent Americans are more likely to have high-speed internet access than Americans who make less money. Faster internet plans require a higher monthly payment. The same is true of smartphone and hotspot plans.

Age: Older Americans are less likely to have high-speed internet access or to...
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