The Digital Divide —It’s More Than An Age Gap
Prior to moving to Toronto in 2014, I lived 19 years on this beautiful island called Trinidad (of the annexed nation Trinidad and Tobago). If you do not know where this is then the map below should help →
So as you could probably guess, we’re small, like, dot-on-the-map-of-the-world-kind-of-small. We’re also a 3rd world country and, as such, in simple terms, our internet quality is low. Fortunately, we have 2 providers that supply internet service to the entirety of the island. On the other hand, there are many undeveloped, 3rd world countries like us, that to this day do not have the use of the internet.
If I were to ask my Trinidadian grandparents about the internet, they would probably ask me if it is something that we break if it falls down. Elderly people in Trinidad do not, or have ever touched a computer or a smartphone and this is due to the fact that it was only in 2004 that wireless internet was introduced.
A digital divide is basically the gap in knowledge that exists between the older generation and the new generation (ie. millennials) when it comes to technologies and how to use them fluently but, that is not all. The digital divide goes beyond age and to other factors including wealthy countries and poorer countries, for example.
Bridging the gap requires that every single country in the world be given and afforded the ability to have or own a piece of technology, develop the skill set to use it and have the access to an internet service. It sounds simple, but there are companies that only believe in profits so that would mean small, underdeveloped areas that are suffering from unemployment and poverty are not given the consideration for these services to be put in place. By doing this, internet service providers are only broadening the gap by withholding these services that could help these people due to their inability to pay.
Luckily, there are organizations such as the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) whose mission is to “work together to enable affordable Internet access for everyone, everywhere” through “advocacy, research and knowledge sharing.”
Currently A4AI is working with 8 countries (Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala, Liberia, Mozambique, Myanmar and Nigeria) in an attempt to bring affordable internet to those cannot afford the extremely high rates.
The digital divide requires more than grandchildren teaching their grandparents how to use a smartphone. It transcends any age issue and moves into the sociological class structures that exists from country to country. Poverty is a big factor that prompts the growing digital divide due to the excessive mark ups in rates for rural areas by companies for internet and the expensive prices attached to technologies. Bridging the gap seems to be a lot more difficult than most people would imagine but we are lucky that there are initiatives such as A4AI that are focussed on the regions that most people forget.
Thanks for reading. See you next week!