Many assume that internet users a single homogeneous group but there are digital differences, which refers to the stratification between different groups in society and how they may be disadvantaged in their use of the Internet based on their social characteristics. It may also be referred to as the ‘Digital Divide’ (Morrisett).
Figure 1. A video I created illustrating a few of the digital differences in society.
Limited access to the web means individuals are less likely to use it for social interactions, and academic purposes. According to the Office for National Statistics, 5.9 million UK adults have never used the internet and so they may be left with poor digital skills, or none at all, greatly disadvantaging them in the workplace and socially.
My “Digital Differences” and Web interaction:
Previously I concluded that I was, according to Prensky, a digital native and assumed that young people like me were the same. However, I didn’t consider the digital differences between myself and others.
Although I am not at any digital disadvantage I can contrast my digital differences with that of someone in a developing country, with a lower economic status, and a different culture who isn’t able to access the resources that I can and are thus put at a disadvantage, for example, academically.
According to International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 4 billion people from the developing world remain offline and it is these people who may be left without digital skills, access to online resources, and communication with others.
Digital differences are fundamentally present when comparing country of residence – between the developing and developed world. But it’s also important to consider how these differences overlap and can lead to a ‘triad of disadvantage’, for example, a black, working class woman could face more disadvantage digitally than a white, middle class woman. It can be argued that these differences may result in a reduced quality of life and may continue as technology rapidly advances and so should be treated like any other form of inequality.
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