American Digital Divide

An online article entitled 1 in 5 Households has Never Used Email caught my attention over the weekend. After reading through the basic facts, I went to the homepage for Parks Associates, a Research and Analysis company specializing in digital living technologies that performed the study, to read more.

In addition to the above-mentioned email statistic, the study also states that:
-18% of all households are without internet access
-30% of household heads have never used a computer to create documents, and
-21% have never searched for information on the internet

So, are you shocked by this article and its statistics? I'm sure for some people, knowing that nearly 20 million U.S. households can't access the internet ranks right up there with last week's previously unpublished pictures of uncontacted Amazon Indians in terms of shock value. I, for one, was way more shocked to know that there are uncontacted people left anywhere on our planet- really, truly fascinating in my opinion.

Anyways, aside from the shock value of the digital divide that is present in the United States, this study caused me to stop and think about the technology implications that these numbers have for teachers and students. For teachers who aren't technology savvy (by circumstance or by choice), their students are being negatively impacted by being left behind in technology that is standard in today's workplace. For students who happen to live somewhere with lack of internet access, they too are at a serious disadvantage in comparison to their linked-in peers.

So, what to do? For starters, adults who are not technology hip need to take the leap, preferably with the help of a friend or relative who can demonstrate that the computer is, indeed, not a maniacal monster. For educators and public education institutions, requiring email and technology use for all staff is a must. Finally, for those living in areas without access to the internet, our state and federal governments need to work on this realm of our country's infrastructure, which is just as important as maintaining our nation's roads and bridges.

To all of you reading this (who, by the nature of blogs, must be somewhat technologically savvy), I challenge you to help bridge the technology gap for someone that you know- whether it's your dear old fashioned auntie or your tool tinkering dad- in an effort to share the wonders of modern technologies with more of our colleagues and comrades. Good luck and have fun!

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