When we think of inequality the first things that come to mind are traditional forms of inequality: class, race, gender, health etc. However a new emerging type of inequality is digital inequality (van Djik, 2013). Digital differences refers to how your offline context, hinders or advances your ability to access the internet, resulting in digital inequalities. Different macro and micro factors lead to this digital divide.
As more and more activities are beginning to become available only online the question has been raised as to whether having access to the internet should become a basic human right. Robinson (2015) stated that ‘[the internet] has the potential to shape life chances in multiple ways’. There are so many opportunities that are available on the internet and nowhere else for things such as employment, healthcare, and education. For more details on the debate click here.
The ‘Learning in the Network Age’ MOOC that I am a part of states how difficult it could be for someone with an old smartphone on a contract with little data to access the internet. This is interesting because to be on the MOOC would require both those things. Therefore, aren’t things like MOOC’s not increasing the digital divide?
A TED talk by Aleph Molinari, discussing the Digital Divide and how to bridge it.
The final step in the MOOC asks you to reflect on how digital differences may have impacted your learning. After evaluating the different factors, I realise how fortunate I am. I got my first computer with internet access at age 7 or 8. When I reflect I am disappointed in how much time I spend on social media rather than using the internet to educate myself. If I had spent equal amounts of time educating myself as I do on social media I wonder what change I could have made in the world already.
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Robinson, L., Cotten, S.R., Ono, H., Quan-Haase, A., Mesch, G., Chen, W., Schulz, J., Hale, T.M. and Stern, M.J., 2015. Digital inequalities and why they matter. Information, Communication & Society, 18(5), pp.569- [Accessible via: 582. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1012532]
Van Dijk, J.A., 2013. Inequalities in the network society. In Digital Sociology (pp. 105-124). Palgrave Macmillan, London. [Accessible via: https://ris.utwente.nl/ws/files/5599908/Digital_Sociology_-_Hoofdstuk_7_Inequalities_in_the_Network_Society.pdf]
YouTube. (2011). TEDxSanMigueldeAllende – Aleph Molinari – Bridging thee Digital Divide. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaxCRnZ_CLg [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].