Does Everyone Have Access To The Internet?

What is The Digital Divide?

In today’s society, modern technology plays a major role in our everyday lives. With the development of inventions, such as the computer, phones, Internet, and television, it has made performing tasks and jobs rather simpler. For example, finding the recipe for your favourite dish can be found in a few seconds through the Internet. With the impact that technology has brought to this world, you would think that almost everybody in this planet would have access to these inventions, but unfortunately you would be wrong. A word to describe this is called ‘Digital Divide’, and it refers to the gap between regions that have access to modern information and communications technology, and those that don’t or have restricted access (Margaret Rose, 2014)[1].

The Problem:

The digital divide normally exists in rural areas, especially in developing countries.

Unlike Canada or America, in which you can obtain access to the Internet almost everywhere, in most rural places across the world, a computer or even cell phone is non-existent. For example, countries such as India and Africa have a much lower number of Internet users in comparison to China and America. According to a graph from Internet Live Stats, as of July 1, 2013, there are only 9.8% of Internet Users in Africa, and in Asia there are around 48.4%[2]. Although it seems that these developing countries have no access to computers at all, that’s not entirely true. In most cases, children who excel in their studies are usually given opportunities in which they can attend schools or camps that have computers and other pieces of technology. However, even though they get to use these machines, the digital divide can happen again by the performance of the technology. The computers could be running on old software, have slow Internet connection, and be restricted to only certain content.

source: http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/

The digital divide is still going on to this day, and the reason for this is mainly because of the costs for better and faster Internet. New features and apps are constantly being introduced, and these often require a high-speed Internet. A few examples are video streaming (Youtube, Netflix, Vimeo), online gaming, and video calling (Facebook, FaceTime, Skype). Also with the rise of smartphones, the costs for having data plans are also increasing. With all these new services, it’s becoming much harder to diminish the digital divide.

How Can We Help?

With the Internet being such a vital part in everybody’s life, it’s important that we try to close this digital gap, and here are some ways we can help:

  • Improve Education: It’s believed that in order to succeed in life you must have a good education. For many people, having a good education means you can have some of the best things in life, such as having access to new technology. Unfortunately, there are many parts in the world where children can’t receive a proper education. Therefore, in order to help out these less fortunate places, many people have volunteered themselves to help bring an educational system that is accessible to everyone.
  • Economic equality: Whether if you live in a city or a rural area, you should be able to have access to essentials that could benefit someone’s health. Telephones, computers, and the Internet, are all important pieces that can help an individuals life. For example, if someone were in severe danger, a cell phone would be an essential tool for that person’s safety. Also throughout the Internet, there is so much information that can help with someone’s career, civic life, and safety[3].
  • Economic growth: It’s been shown in developed countries that the possibility for growth in ones future is endless. Having the ability to easily access information can improve the skills in the field people want to practice in. Therefore, if everyone in the world were able to access all of the world’s information, it would definitely help the economic growth for developing countries. For instance, not many children are able to continue to their education, or let alone have one. Fortunately, if they had the ability to use a computer and the Internet, they could continue studies whether they’re in school or not.

With the constant growth and development of new innovations and technology, we must try our best to ensure that everyone can gain access to these new things and close this gap called the digital divide.

Citations

[1] Rouse, M. (2014, June). What is Digital Divide? Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/digital-divide

[2] Number of Internet Users. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/

[3] Http://www.internetworldstats.com/links10.htm. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.internetworldstats.com/links10.htm