The Digital Divide : Who is Missing?
The web is a great source of information. In today’s world, internet is not a luxury but rather a need. From the recipe of a cupcake to certified degrees, everything is available on the internet. Students need it in schools and employees need it at work, as well as it has a endless need commercially. But an important question about this growing need is; Does everyone have access to it?
The answer to that is NO. Although the internet seems to be something that everyone might have, its not true. Today, lets discuss some of the benefits of the web, why there is a divide, who is left behind and if there are any solutions to bridge this gap.
Benefits of having access to the Web
As mentioned before, there are a several benefits of having internet access and using it to solve all your life’s problems. Once you are on the internet, all it takes is a few clicks and there you have it; problem of the day solved! Here are some of the benefits if the internet;
Endless Supply of Knowledge
Being on the web means having an infinite supply of knowledge from all over the world. Using search engines like google help to gather all that information on one page and present it for the user to choose from. Information is not only present via text but pictures and videos are widely available to make it even easier.
Products and Services
Not to forget, it is 2017 and people enjoy the comfort of sitting in their homes to do online shopping, enjoy customer service and solve problems related to any product or service. Stores give special discounts for online shoppers and that creates great revenues for companies along with being easy and accessible for shoppers.
Communication and Sharing
With many other benefits comes communication and sharing. Yes, this is a pretty big one. Ever since the internet has come into existence, people have had access to online social platforms such as MSN, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Instagram etc. People are connecting to other people more than ever! The web allows people to share pictures, videos, text and the possibilites are endless. Lets not forget that thousands of people are making a living out of it. The simplest example is youtube where young vloggers have become millionaires in a course of just a few years.
Business Point of View
Online stores are getting popular by the minute. Someone as old school as myself has also shopped online a few times. And when I say im old school — trust me, I still enjoy the kettle whistling before I pour some hot water in my mug for tea.
Who hasn’t tried amazon? You probably have. As mentioned before, ease is created for the customer and the vendour makes profits with minimal cost. Now that is what we call smart! Win win.
Entertainment is a huge part of todays world. Online entertainment takes up a lot of the percentage when it comes to the division of the sources of entertainment. There are social media websites, youtube and other video streaming websites, torrents, online gaming, movies and much more that people can enjoy. Needless to say, there is a vast majority of options to choose from. There are websites for every kind of person out there to spend time on. Students, beauticians, scientists, designers, chefs or dancers — you name it. By means of entertainment, people are also being able to adapt to diverse cultures and accept the concept of the global village into their lives.
There are many others benefits such as mapping, GPS, news, banking, job interviews (HR) and many others.
Coming to the Main Question, Who is Missing from this Humungous Circle?
Being on the web means being able to afford the connection. It also means being able to afford a device that you can access the web on. Apart from that, the person should be literate (able to read and write) and should be able to learn. All these factors seem pretty basic right? According to a study, if there were only 100 people on earth, only 40 can afford an internet connection. Which means 60 percent of the world can not afford internet. These people can not be on the web. Poverty is also a huge factor. There are millions of people who can not afford a device, or even an internet connection. There are humans who are dying because of malnutrition, let alone the availability of internet and a device. According to the facts, these are the rates of internet and web usage in developing countries (relatively poor to the first world countries); 39% in Nigeria, 30% in Indonesia and 22% in India. People who are old have a very hard time using the web. A reason for that is the learning curve that comes with the web. One needs to learn as to what this is, how it is used and people who are old and not used to technology will have a hard time learning it. There are also disable people. There can be several disabilities, physical and mental due to which the use of internet can be limited or not possible.
What is Being Done to Bridge the Gap?
In Canada, the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians Disabilities Act) aims to make Canada accessible to all types of people by 2025. This means that people who have disability as a barrier to the web will be free of that barrier.
Secondly — a few years now, phones and other electronic devices such as laptops and tablets that were very expensive (or alot cheaper but difficult for many lower income people to afford) have been made available using financing e.g., a phone that costs $1000 can be afforded by paying 35 or 40 dollars every month. This way, many more people have been able to afford digital assets and access the web. Not only has that helped people afford electronic devices but it has also helped countless companies proper and progress.
We are lucky to have internet access almost anywhere we go, be it universities, shopping malls, airports or even on planes. However, we are extremely fortunate — and to be precise, more fortunate than half of the globe. There are also indirect ways through which people are saving money and are able to afford both the connection and the device. Students for example get additional discounts on many stores, which provides more encouragement towards getting your hands on these facilities, or rather needs.
If you’re reading this, you are extremely fortunate and very lucky.
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Global population statistics based on the concept of reducing the world population of 7 billion to 100 people.www.100people.org