Digital divide or split is a social concern that refers to the variation in the amount of information between individuals who have access, and capable of using the modern information technology such as the use of the internet, telephone, and television and the ones who do not have access. The term "Digital divide" became widespread among some group of people, including scholars, advocacy groups, and policymakers during the 1990's. According to this essay, there are various causes of the digital divide that need to be addressed. The digital divide is brought about by the variation between individuals living in the cities and those in the rural areas. For instance, the accessibility of internet service is more common in the large cities as compared to the rural areas. The digital divide can also exist as a result of education levels, economic classes, globally and between developed and developing nations. Digital divide within country results from the inequalities that exist between individuals, businesses, and locations at a socioeconomic perspective. Global digital divide, on the other hand, refers to split between countries such as the evaluation of the split between developed and developing nations.
The digital divide is not only determined by the access and the capability to use an internet service, rather the accessibility of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the availability of media that individuals within a society can use. Despite the availability of internet connection in various countries across the globe, the quality of connection remains to be an issue to be put into consideration. The digital divide continues to be a social problem across the globe as a result of the difference in information technology. On the contrary, researchers stipulate that the digital divide is not a vivid split of the society into two groups, but can take various forms. For instance, the digital divide can take the form of lower-quality internet connections, lower-performance computers, and difficulty in accessing technical support.
The essay entails an analysis of the digital divide across the globe, causes, and significant effects based on social and economic perspectives. In achieving the aforementioned objectives, different digital divide theories are to be examined. The essay also focuses on the digital split in Unite Kingdom, United States, and Germany in order to bring out effects of knowledge and technology gap on the digital divide.
Dimensions of Digital Divide
Internet is important in myriad aspects of life, such as in social, political, and economic activities within the society. The accessibility and capability to utilize the access to the internet is a necessity in curbing inequalities across different social groups. In a general perspective, the digital divide can be used to describe the split between people who have effective access to information communication technology and those who do not have access to it. Castel has mentioned some factors that play a domineering role in the digital divide. The lack of knowledge is believed to create an obstacle to the use and accessibility of new technology. However, among all factors, gender plays an insignificant role in the digital divide. In 2000, digital divide was broadly measured in terms of accessibility in Europe as compared to North America. Age-discrimination, in digital technology, is higher in Europe as compared to the United States. For instance, 44 percent of the population between ages 55 and 64 were online in the US, while only 12 percent for the same age bracket were online in Europe.
According to the research study by Castell, there are four significant factors that are attributed with the digital divide. They include demographics, the knowledge gap, technological divide, and the global digital divide. According to the World Summit on the Information Society, there could be another determinant factor of the language gap. Castel study the four contributing factors in order to show their impact on the digital divide. For instance, the issue of demographics is categorized into age, gender, race, and location. The aforementioned factors are believed to have a significant influence on the digital divide. New technology divide implies that people who have already witnessed and mastered it are far much ahead of those who are experiencing it now, therefore, divide exists. Knowledge gap has played an imperative role in the rise of the digital divide across the world. The aspect of the knowledge gap determines how people utilize technology as the accessibility and ease to use technology requires skills and knowledge. According to Castel, global digital divide exists between the developed and developing nations.
The analysis of the digital divide by Castell brings out a clear definition, cause, and effects of internet connection in the modern society. Castell outlines the four determinant factors that are attributed with a digital divide. The writings have also mentioned of different reasons why individuals require an internet connection in the modern society. As a result, Castell interpretation and evaluation of the digital divide has been conducted in an effective way.
Castell has focused on a wide range of factors that contribute to the digital divide. However, he fails to mention about multinational companies, and digital divide correlation with the business environment. Globalization has resulted in improved technology and effective communication ways around the globe. Multinational companies need a better internet connection in order to get information within the shortest time possible. Therefore, multinational companies having access to efficient broadband internet connection will have an extra advantage in accessing customers around the globe, expanding its customer base. On the contrary, companies with a frail internet connection will be behind competition in the market.
The drastic diffusion of internet connection services across the globe has been precipitated by the improved technology that allows fast and efficient internet usage. According to various studies, it is certain that improvements in the accessibility of internet are going to be witnessed in the future. The speed at which internet is spreading has resulted in a digital divide among countries around the globe. Internet connection and accessibility in urban areas has been improved in most parts of the developing countries with very little being done in the rural areas. The emergence of globalization and the rise of a higher social class group have significantly contributed to the advancement in technology and subsequent development on internet connections. The digital gap in developing countries can be attributed to the existing split in telecommunications infrastructure, internet content providers, and internet service providers among other factors.
As a result of the technological revolution during the 20th century, internet and digital divide have become inevitable around the world. Some of the factors that result in global digital divide include poverty, income inequality, and social seclusion. Globalization has brought significant impact on internet efficiency as communication to foreign countries becomes necessary. As a result, fast and effective means of communication have been developed through internet access. An economy that depends on the internet has a significant impact on growth and economic development within that nation. There have been several positive as well as negative effects associated with the access of the internet. On the contrary, the advantages of using the internet overweigh the disadvantages. According to Castell, digital split can be measured based on connections and also lack of connection. He describes the internet as a technological tool that is responsible for distributing information power, generation of knowledge, and potential networking.
The Digital divide in the UK, US, Germany, and around the globe
There is a vast variation in the usage and accessibility of the internet across the world. According to Castell, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands had an equivalent of two thirds to the United States, in the level of diffusion. Castel postulates that the accessibility gap between various nations is shrinking. For instance, 63 percent of Americans were online ion 2003 while over 75 percent in 2005. However, the developing countries or the poor have focused on the accessibility of the internet, rather than the quality. As a result, a widening divide between the developing and developed world has been inevitable. The most considerable digital divide is along gender, rural and urban areas, and age groups that vanish within a couple of years. In the current world, the digital divide is influenced by factors such as access to high internet connection, cable modems, wireless internet services, and digital subscriber lines. Therefore, it is essential to mention that the digital divide will never cease to appear as many factors influence its existence. As a result, factors that affect digital divide will continue to vanish and emerge with the development and advancement of technology.
New technology divide and knowledge gap
Education plays an important part in acquainting to various aspects in life, including how an individual can use technology. The rise of colleges and universities offering information and technology has ensured efficiency and proficiency in the use of technology. Knowledge capacity facilitates individuals in developing the ability to operate and use the internet. In the information age, it is imperative for people to understand how information is obtained or retrieved from a computer. According to Castel, learning institutions have become more effective in instilling knowledge about modern technology. There are certain factors that influence learning modern technology. They include the lack of adequate and skilled teachers, schools have been differentiated based on race and class, and schools have had a different cultural background, and failure to give out good and quality education as a result of family involvement.
The digital divide has been a major social problem in the information age across the globe. There have been various views about the causative factors to the digital divide between them involving Castel. According to Castel, there are four determinants of the digital divide that should be put into consideration. There are myriad reasons for accessing the internet in this modern society. Some of these reasons have been necessitated by the wave of globalization and the need for economic expansion in different countries. It is crucial to bridge the digital divide in the society in order to promote economic equality, social mobility, economic growth, and democracy among others.
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