The New Digital Divide
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The New Digital Divide



LIS 768 Group Project

LIS 768 Group Project



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  • The digital divide was first identified in the mid 1990s as the divide between those who have access to digital technology (computers, mobile phones and the Internet) and those who do not.
  • Although the struggle to close the gap between the technology haves and have-nots will continue for at least the next 10 years (according to recent Gartner research), the digital divide has been recognized as a serious threat and things are moving in the right direction.
  • And a recent Gartner report stated that 1 in 5 households worldwide will have a fixed broadband connection by the end of this year. Which means 422 million households will have broadband by the end of this year, compared to 382 million in 2008, and it is likely that the this trend will grow to 580 million by 2013.
  • But while strides have been made in the recent years to close the digital divide gap with open and reliable access to Internet, a new digital divide has opened up. The new digital divide separates those who, for a variety of reasons, decide not to utilize technology from those who do.
  • Seth Godin, in his book “Small is the new big” notes that the new digital divide is “based far more on choice than on circumstance.” And while in certain situations this choice might not be directly yours, a distinction should still be made between not having reliable access to the Internet and simply not using it.
  • Helene Blowers, a librarian, says the new digital divide refers to “the ability to utilize technology and the new information channels smartly.”
  • Why does the new digital divide exist? In our research, we have identified several reasons as to why the new digital divide exists, including: 21st century and social media literacy skills; access restrictions that have nothing to do with the availability of broadband or the technology; socioeconomic barriers, which is especially evident in schools; fear, resistance, privacy and security, as well as awareness and relevance specifically for the digital immigrants.
  • We also identified four groups of people who are being affected by new digital divide: digital natives, digital immigrants, people lacking opportunities, conscientious objectors
  • In several European countries, Internet access has been declared a human right…
  • HOWEVER…. This has not eradicated the digital divide among today’s youth. WHY?...
  • Participation gap -- effect on students even in the wealthiest suburbs… kids don’t have enough time in school computer labs/libraries… public libraries have limits (30 min) for user time… not enough time for kids to get work done when teachers are assigning a lot of computer required work….
  • But in addition to the traditional divide… the new digital divide is also a divide in knowledge and ability. As we know and others are coming finally to understand, you can’t just throw computers into schools and libraries and be done with it. We must give students the opportunities and the knowledge to be able to use these technologies to involve themselves in today’s participatory / Web 2.0 culture.
  • Some of these standards are embedded within content area standards (so they take a back seat); some teachers are barely competent (or not) with these technologies, so how can they possibly integrate them into their curriculum? No separate “Technology Skills” or even “Media Literacy Skills” class—so how do kids learn?
  • As educators know, if a skill or competency isn’t testable or tested, it tends to fall by the wayside. So many of these standards are getting “lip service” right now. AND media literacy needs have advanced beyond educating students about powerpoint and email… become about 2.0! (Read quote )
  • This represents a shift to more of a focus on participatory culture…
  • Providing access to computers isn’t enough to close the divide—this must be combined with education to help young people learn the skills and knowledge needed to use these tools effectively.
  • The majority of these states simply require schools/libs to adopt internet use policies to stop young people from accessing obscene or harmful info. ILLINOIS has no such laws
  • In order to receive discounts on communication technologies. SO, although Illinois doesn’t have filtering laws, many schools and libraries must still filter. Filters often block social networking sites– and if they don’t many school and public libraries add these sites into their filters—so filters prevent many from accessto the sites that are so popular and so quickly seeping into the practices of the business world and everyday communications within society.
  • So in order to close this digital divide among today’s young people…
  • Digital immigrants, or the non-digital natives, are people who “were not born into the digital world but have, at some later point in their lives, become fascinated by and adopted many or most aspects of the new technology.” By not using technology they are also increasingly excluded from the opportunities and conversations of the world.
  • In a way, the digital immigrants still “choose” not to use technology -- it’s just that sometimes they do it for all the wrong reasons.
  • Most notably, digital immigrants lack 21st century and social media literacy skills. Since they did not grow up with the technology, for digital immigrants using computers and the internet is like learning a new language and a new set of skills that is entirely foreign to them. According to the World Wide Web Consortium, the lack of education on how to use the Web to its full potential is one of the most important factors contributing to the gap in Internet usage, and digital immigrants are at the forefront.
  • This is especially true for the digital immigrants; what seems easy and common sense to digital natives is difficult and foreign to a digital immigrant.
  • Therefore, educating digital immigrants on how to search for information, how to participate in discussions, how to take initiative and benefit from the technology and even something as simple as making sure our websites easy to use can help.
  • In addition to building technology skills, building awareness of the potential of the technology is important. One thing that divides the digital immigrants from the natives, is that they don’t think of the internet as a source of information. And even when they are aware of what the technology has to offer, they find it difficult to see how they can benefit directly from it. In short, digital immigrants are either not aware of what the internet has to offer or they don’t see it as relevant to them, and in most cases it’s both.
  • My Mom is a good example of this. Not until this year did she realize the she can keep in touch with family and friends in Poland through a Polish social networking site called “NaszaKlasa”.
  • Educating digital immigrants in the possibilities of a computerand internet in addition to building skills is important.
  • The above two examples, Pete Taylor and my Mom, also illustrate fear of privacy and security. And these are not imagined fears, these are real concerns that all of us are facing. For digital immigrants who are new to the Internet it can be that much more difficult to start using internet resources, especially social networking sites.
  • Libraries have stepped up in educating digital immigrants about the use of technologies – there are plenty of computer classes offered at libraries that teach adults and senior citizens how to use a computer and even the internet. Libraries are even getting better at spreading awareness and showing relevance.But are we also teaching online privacy? I haven’t been able to find a library that specifically offers online privacy lessons.
  • My suggestions for what we, as librarians, can do to help digital immigrants overcome the new digital divide include first of all, leading by example and building awareness in our communities. The key to this is education, which is not just about learning computer skills, but understanding privacy and the potential that the internet holds. Lastly, and Sheila will touch on this a bit more, we need to empower digital immigrants to take advantage of what the internet has to offer.

The New Digital Divide Presentation Transcript

  • 1. The New Digital DivideLIS 768 Group ProjectFall 2009
    Toni Gzehoviak
    Kasia Grabowska
    Dan McPhillips
    Sheila Cody
  • 2. What is the Digital Divide?
    The term digital divide refers to the gap between people who have access to digital technology – such as computers, Internet, mobile phones, etc. – and those who have very limited access or no access at all.
  • 3. Source:
  • 4. Source:
  • 5. 1 in 5 Households Worldwide has Broadband Internet Access
    2008 – 382 million households
    2009 – 422 million households
    2013 – 580 million households
  • 6. Old vs. New
    “Old” digital divide -- divide between those who have access to technology and those who do not
    New digital divide – divide between those who use technology and those who do not
  • 7. The New Digital Divide
    digital divide = circumstance
    new digital divide = choice
  • 8. Source:
  • 9. Reasons
    21st century literacy / social media literacy
    Access and restrictions
    Socioeconomic barriers
    Fear, resistance, privacy, security
    Awareness, visibility, relevance
  • 10. Digitally Excluded and ‘E-solated’
    Digital natives
    Digital immigrants
    People lacking opportunities
    Conscientious objectors
  • 11. Socioeconomic Barriers to Information Access
    Bridging the Gap
  • 12. Internet Statistics
    79% of American adults used the internet in 2009, up from 67% in Feb. 2005
  • 13. Using the Internet as a Tool
    Some 69% of all Americans have used the internet to cope with the recession as they hunt for bargains, jobs, ways to upgrade their skills, better investment strategies, housing options, and government benefits. That amounts to 88% of internet users.
  • 14. Poverty
    1 in 10 Americans are unemployed
    1 in 5 seniors are poor
    These are people that desperately need access to the internet, the ones that would benefit most from the resources available online (e.g. Medicare, Social Security information, job searching …)
  • 15. E-Government
    Bridge or barrier?
  • 16. Internet Access as a Human Right
    Estonia, France, and most recently Finland have made internet access a human right
  • 17. Government
    Countries are adopting legal measures to ensure internet access
    The government has allocated $7.2 billion for broadband development as part of the stimulus package. The money will be distributed in January (Source:
    The U.S. Government is moving towards reaching people electronically – and getting people more involved
  • 18. Government
  • 19. Government
  • 20. Government
  • 21. Government
  • 22. Government
  • 23. Homelessness
  • 24. Homeless Patrons
    They can be some of our best patrons considering their informational needs: law, justice, and citizenship (
  • 25. Homeless
  • 26. Homeless Bloggers
    Daniel Suelo
    Eric Sheptock
  • 27. Homeless bloggers
  • 28. Libraries with policies that deter homeless
    Manatee County Library System (
    Schaumburg Township District Library (
    Libraries that require a permanent address to get a library card
  • 29. Bridging the Gap
  • 30. Chicago Public Library System
    • A model example
    • 31. 74 locations, ~ 1100 computers
  • Chicago Poverty Statistics
    Residents with income below the poverty level in 2007:
    Chicago:  20.5%
    Whole state:    11.9%
  • 32. N.C. Digital Initiative
    $3.1 million John and James Knight Foundation grant will go to 12 communities across the U.S. to build better digital library centers
    $804,100 Grant will go to create a career lab where people can search for jobs, build skills, and create resumes
    Will also help increase bandwidth and purchasing new computers for libraries in Charlotte and Mecklenburg Counties
  • 33.
  • 34. Here are some examples of the New Digital Divide …
  • 35. The Divide Among Digital Natives
    Access to Technology through Schools
    Nearly universal in the U.S.
    • No Child Left Behind
    • Telecommunications Act of 1996
    Nationwide average of four students per computer in schools
  • 36. The Divide Among Digital Natives
    Access to Technology at Home
    70% of individuals aged 3 – 17
    live in households with internet access.
    — U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 population report (released online in 2009)
  • 37.
  • 38. Lack of Home Internet Access
    Creates a Divide when Using Technology at School
    “Children who have access to home computers demonstrate more positive attitudes towards computers and show greater ease when using computers than those who do not…
    More often than not, those youth who have developed the most comfort with the online world are the ones who dominate classroom use of computers, pushing aside less technically skilled classmates.”
    (Jenkins 8; 13)
  • 39. The NEW Divide = a Division in Knowledge
    We must “shift the focus of the conversation about the digital divide from questions of technological access to those of opportunities to participate and to develop the cultural competencies and skills needed for full involvement” in society.
    “Access to today’s participatory culture functions as a new form of the hidden curriculum, shaping which youth will succeed and which will be left behind as they enter school and the workplace.”
    (Jenkins 3)
  • 40. Media Literacy - knowledge
    Media Literacy Education
    All states have adopted educational standards detailing what students should know and be able to do with technology.
  • 41. Media Literacy - knowledge
    Only 5 states actually test students’ knowledge and skills with technology (Hightower).
    The focus of technology education must shift to the “new media literacies: a set of skills that young people need in the new media landscape…The new literacies almost all involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking” (Jenkins 4).
  • 42. Participatory Culture
    A study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project suggests that “we are moving away from a world in which some produce and many consume media, toward one in which everyone has a more active stake in the culture that is produced”
    (Lenhardt & Madden)
  • 43. Participatory Divide
    More than half of American teens could be considered media creators
    Created a blog or webpage
    Posted original artwork, photos, stories, videos
    Remixed online content into a new creation
    What about the other half ? ? ?
    (Lenhardt & Madden)
  • 44. Participatory Divide
    Benefits of this participatory culture:
    Opportunities for peer-to-peer learning
    A changed attitude toward intellectual property
    Diversification of cultural expression
    Development of skills valued in the modern workplace
    A more empowered concept of citizenship
    (Jenkins 3)
  • 45. The NEW Divide = Denial of Access
    Blocking and Filtering
    21 states have Internet filtering laws for public schools or libraries
    Internet Use Policies
    Filtering Software
    (National Council of State Legislators)
  • 46. Denial of Access
    Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
    Requires the use of filtering software to block access to websites with offensive photos or materials (In order to participate in the E-Rate program)
    (Federal Communications Commission)
  • 47. Denial of Access
    National Coalition Against Censorship
    Filtering: Limits the free exchange of ideas
    Filtering operates by keywords, so studies show frequent examples of “egregious overblocking”
    (Heins & Cho)
  • 48. Closing the Divide for Youth
    Media Literacy Education — in school libraries and public libraries
    Access to participatory technologies — in school libraries and public libraries
    Expanded access to computers in general
    Advocate against filtering laws or requirements
  • 49. Digital Immigrants
    People who “were not born into the digital world but have, at some later point in their lives, become fascinated by and adopted many or most aspects of the new technology.” (Prensky, 2001)
  • 50. Reasons
    Skills and education
    Awareness and relevance
    Fear, privacy and security
  • 51. 21st Century Literacy
    “No prior technological advance has had such a profound cognitive impact as computing.”
  • 52. Example: Pete Taylor
    Pete had been considering using the internet but feared it would be complicated.
  • 53. Builidng 21st Century Literacy Skills
    “Far worse than the economic divide is the fact that technology remains so complicated that many people couldn't use a computer even if they got one for free.”
  • 54. Awareness and Relevance
    “Pew survey indicates that about 65 million Americans don’t go online. Of this group, only five percent cite money as the reason; 39 percent say only that they’re not interested or it’s a waste of time.”
  • 55. Example: My Mom
    My Mom has been around computers for years, but she never found much use in them.
  • 56. Creating Awareness and Relevance
    “As the old familiar formats become less available and more information and entertainment goes digital, those in their 50s, 60s and beyond can become marginalized if they don’t pick up computer skills. They must learn!”
  • 57. Fear – Privacy – Security
    “It is often fear, however, as much as absence of opportunity that holds people back.”
  • 58. Facing Technology Fears
    What are libraries doing to help digital immigrants learn about privacy and security online?
  • 59. Digital Inclusion
    Lead by example
    Build awareness
  • 60. The “Conscientious Objectors (COs)”
    Of the nearly 65 million Americans who don’t go online, 39% say they’re “not interested.” –Pew Internet Life Statistics, qtd. in Green.
    Learning habits
    Demonization of technology
    Ideas about technology users/early adopters
    Nonusers’ social networks are narrow
    Sources: Green, R. Michelle. “Unpacking ‘I Don’t Want It’” – why novices and non-users don’t use the Internet.” First Monday 11(9). 9 September 2006. Via
  • 61. “Permission to Speak, Sir”
    New media guru Clay Shirky: Those who choose not to engage with social media “don’t sense they have permission to speak in public.”
    How can we enfranchise this
    Source: Clay Shirky, “Social Media’s Growing Influence.” National Public Radio interview. Via
  • 62. COs: An Intergenerational Perspective
    Learning new literacies takes too much time
    Feel guilty using social media at work
    Embarrassed to ask Millennials for help
    Gen X:
    Uncomfortable with homogenization
    Technological burnout
    Time demands
    Sources: Lynne Lancaster, “Social Media: Jumping In or Opting Out?” Twin Cities Business Magazine via
    Michael Martin, “’Refuseniks’ Say They’ll Pass on Facebook, Twitter” National Public Radio Interview. Via
  • 63. COs: An Intergenerational Perspective, Continued
    View overlapping social media as “redundant”
    Disdain a “me, me, me” mentality
    Josh Friedman, “Twitter for Business? Call Me Dr. Jekyll…” Central Desktop Blog via
  • 64. “Call me an 80s Hangover, but…”
    “…[I]f there’s a choice to be made, I choose life – fresh air and actual human contact.” –Quoted by commenter Rod on The Shifting Conversation About the Digital Divide, via Chieftech's Blog
    IS there even a choice to be made?
    Is there a middle ground between these two extremes?
  • 65. What if they JUST DON’T WANNA!?
    Since “I’m not interested” can be verbal shorthand for a variety of issues, how can librarians determine pure disinterest?
    How much should we push those who are purely disinterested?
  • 66. Selling COs on Social Media
    Understand their concerns: fear of change? Lack of skills?
    Educate your audience on each tool and how others are using it
    Do your homework: research tools; anticipate questions
    Use pilot projects: stage small, successful demos
    Explain benefits
    Be honest about pros and cons; don’t oversell social media
    Source: Adapted from Marie Ulysse, Health and Human Resources Health and Services Administration. “Social media – To be or not to be…How to get management ‘to be.’ Via