Digital inequalities broadly defined in terms of people’s internet usage, skills & self-perceptions, are as important as traditional measures of inequality in which we are all too familiar: gender, race and class. When these digital inequalities combine with familiar terms –they make them worse by carrying over “pre-existing differences” into the online environment.
Led by Michael J. Stern of the University of Chicago, authors of this article note that “Those who function better in the digital realm and participate more fully in digitally mediated social life enjoy advantages over their digitally disadvantaged counterparts –a key linkage which social science is only beginning to grasp.”
Without a doubt, rather than decreasing, forms of digital exclusion are increasing. Stern and his colleagues observed “As the internet seamlessly integrates itself in everyday routines, forms of inequality themselves mutate.”
This article actually shows how “digital disparities” can effect normal functions of daily life; finding work, building businesses, shopping, accessing health care, learning, socializing, even replying to surveys.
As an example of how current life is more challenging for those not “wired” or confident online, the authors cite the roll-out of Obamacare in the United States. Even though the website was intended as the primary source of program information, design issues made it difficult to navigate for people with slow connections or smartphone. During its first week just 1% of millions of people that visited managed to register.
Their research clearly shows that being on the wrong side of the ‘digital gap’ can have significant effects on one’s life course and trajectory.”
Read Article (Taylor & Francis | sciencedaily.com | 04/09/2015)
In reading this article’s review one could also conclude that Stern’s “digitally disadvantaged counterparts,” did grasped this disparity quite some time ago. Also note that ‘Age’ was left out of the inequality terms though very much a part of that list.
Anyone hoping to bridge this digital gap will require the knowledge, skills and ability to access technology.
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