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Overcoming the Digital Divide

Overcoming the Digital Divide
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Author(s): Al P. Mizell (Nova Southeastern University, USA) and Cecil Sugarman (Nova Southeastern University, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 7
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch232

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Abstract

We all know that technology has become a dominant force in today’s society for people of all ages. However, certain elements of society have less access to technology than others. In the literature, discussions and research on these discrepancies tend to focus on factors such as gender, sex, socioeconomic status, race, education, and employment. Occasionally, age is taken into consideration. In reviewing online articles related to the digital divide, it appears that there are many more articles, reports, and projects that focus on factors other than age. Few looked at the impact of the digital divide on senior citizens. One article, “The Internet and Older Adults” (U.S. Administration on Aging, 2004), reports that: Senior citizens comprise 13% of the U.S. population, but just 4% of the U.S. Internet population. Since their numbers are so small, there has not been much research about what these ‘wired seniors’ are doing online and how they feel about the Internet. It turns out that seniors who have Internet access benefit greatly from the resources available online—communicating with family, researching health information, tracking their investments—all from the comfort of their home or senior center. (paragraph 2) The term “digital divide” is often heard and freely used, but what is it? It has been defined by Carvin (2000) as: “…the gap between those people and communities with access to information technology and those without it. Yet, the fact is there are many divides, characterized by community, ethnic, economic, and age groups.” He goes on to add that “households earning incomes over $75,000 are over 20 times more likely to have home Internet access than those at the lowest income levels” (Carvin, 2000, paragraph 1).

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