People around me use the web all the time, but I’m aware of differences other people have getting access to the web and the types of activities the web is used for. Although it seems sensible to assume there’s a divide between the 50% of people who do have access to the web (Wearesocial.com, 2017) and the other half that do, it’s more complex than that, to the point that digital inequality should be seen as a “traditional form of inequality” (Robinson et al. 2015). Recently, there’s been a shift in the divide from access to digital use (van Dijk, 2012).
Digital Differences Landscape
It’s clear that for people to have web skills, they need an internet connection, but other factors such as education and other macro factors as Fig.1 shows.
There are differences in how we use the web. A detailed presentation about web use in the USA from the Pew Research Centre, presents a positive correlation between broadband connections at home and income. Interestingly, even the >£75k income group doesn’t have 100% connection rate, possibly indicating that internet connections are not seen as a necessity to all or other factors such as age, etc. affect people’s decisions. Indeed, there’s correlation with age, ethnicity and education level – a view shared by Halford, Davies and Dixon (2017).
Digital Differences & Me
I have used networked learning tools such as the Amazon Developer Forums and Stackoverflow to learn new digital skills and develop digital products to make money, but that’s only possible because I know how to search for the correct answer on these platforms – preferential attachment of digital skills. My Digital Learning Plan shows I make use of my Shibboleth login to access academia that I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. It’s only financial cost of education that would hinder my digital access. I also use the web for most tasks – communicating, watching TV or work and is and plays a huge role in my life.
- Halford, S., Davies, H. and Dixon, J. (2017). Digital differences – inequalities and online practices. [Online – Future Learn] Southampton: University of Southampton. Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age/4/steps/303344
- Robinson, L., Cotten, S., Ono, H., Quan-Haase, A., Mesch, G., Chen, W., Schulz, J., Hale, T. and Stern, M. (2015). Digital inequalities and why they matter. Information, Communication & Society, 18(5), pp.569-582.
- van Dijk, JAGM 2012, The Evolution of the Digital Divide – The Digital Divide Turns to Inequality of Skills and Usage. in J Bus, M Crompton, M Hildebrandt & G Metakides (eds), Digital Enlightenment Yearbook 2012. IOS Press, Amsterdam, pp. 57-78.
- Wearesocial.com 2017 https://wearesocial.com/uk/special-reports/digital-in-2017-global-overview
- PewResearch Centre presentation: https://www.slideshare.net/PewInternet/digital-differences-and-money