5 Dec 2008

The digital divide revisited

One of the questions after the talk on generation Y took on the digital divide. Ton Zijlstra made a good point with which I agree fully. The divide which is now between people connected and those not connected through a computer, will probably shift.

With more devices connecting to the web, people left behind might not be the same as those without internet today. Some people in the middle strata (lower middle and middle middle class) may lose out due to ill-advised scepticism. In many families, connection to the internet is regulated by the parents on time grounds and not necessarily content grounds. In a time when teachers are (re-)learning the value of play in formal education, parents should not limit the access to the net by restricting the time and activities carried out by their children. As a lot of these rules are imposed out of fear for the unknown, educating the parents in these groups could aid the children.

Of course, the lower strata in society will be facing similar challenges. Something they have going for them is the facility with which they adopt mobile technologies. In a mobile network world, this is an advantage these groups may be able to use to their advantage, thereby diminishing the current (but increasingly past) digital divide.

In government, it's obviously important to aid those that run the greatest risk. In future, bridging the digital divide will not become obsolete. Our current - and perhaps not very effective - tactics may be even more misplaced for the future.

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