Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Digital Divide


Two years ago the BBC wrote an article about the Digital Divide and how the rest of the world is starting to wake up to the technology around them, including some of the world’s poorest countries. The digital divide has a number of factors: social, education, cultural, geographical, technological and economical. The difference between the most switched on countries and the poorer countries, the gap between them is becoming wider, also with the countries in the same continent. The BBC has a number of figures which they show how much the digital divide has increased. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Sweden has 12% of its population offline compared to 56.5% in Greece. The ITU say that: “The scale of a country's digital divide reflects the condition of its economy”

This chart shows that the most connected countries are Finland and Sweden with about 90% online. The least connected countries are all less than 0.6%, with Myanmar with only 0.2% connected online. The map shows the digital divide worldwide. The countries with the most online in 2008, was Iceland and South Korea. The country with most amount of people offline was Myanmar, Ethiopia and South Africa.

Facts and figures show that:
 The majority of people in the UK have access to the internet; there are still 10 million people who do not. Of these people, 4 million are the most socially and economically disadvantaged in the country.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->1 in 4 adults have never used the internet.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->1/3 of households do not have internet in the UK, 39% of the people without access in the UK are over 65.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->38% people not online are also unemployed.














 
Economic

The economic factor includes important divides: income, development and literacy. In poorer countries, less people are able to afford for the newest technology. Owning a computer in poorer countries would not benefit as there are more important concerns such as finding food and water. Many people raise money nowadays to give children a classroom so that they can have a school with chairs, desks and a chalk board. Unlike in the UK we can access a computer every day, use smart boards and more advanced technology. At school, I am able to access a computer everyday, which benefits towards my school life. Most schools around the UK are able to afford computers as they have enough money. Some less fortunate countries are unable to get computers as they are too expensive and before they can buy one they have to have electricity connection which also costs. In 2005, The United Nations launched “Digital Solidarity Fund” to finance projects to the use of new technologies and enabling excluded people and countries to enter the technology era in which we are in today. However, this has raised a few questions, “Will plugging in poor countries into the internet enable them to ‘get rich quick’?” I think this is highly unlikely to happen. Computers need to be constantly updated and to be able to go on the computers you need to be educated to read and spell. I think that giving these poorer countries computers will be useful, however they need to be educated to be able to go on them. From www.economist.com they have stated “Rather than trying to close the digital divide for the sake of it, the sensible the goal is to determine how best to use technology to promote bottom-up technology”. This means that poorer countries should not just be given access to computers and the internet, but to find out how different types of technology would benefit their needs. In my own experience, the cost of new technology is increasing rapidly. As soon as you buy a new piece of technology, such as a mobile phone, a new one is released and costing more money. Newer pieces of technology are qucikly released after buying a piece of technology, which you personally think cannot be any better, however companies seem to come up with more advanced ideas. Personally, I think this can cost an awful lot as you are always wanting the next adavnced technology.

The Fear of Technology

The fear of technology is mostly the people who have not had enough experience on, which is mostly the older generation. The older generation have had more of an change of technology, from landline phones to mobile phones, large computers to Ipads  This is similar to the younger generation as technology has changed, although the generation below us are going to grow up being used to this advanced technology and they won’t have experienced older things, which the other generations have, between some of the biggest technology changes.
In 2010, there are 9.2m (18%) adults who have never used the internet and 27% who do not have internet access at home. Age seems to be the biggest factor, stats show that 99% of those aged 16-24 have used the internet, and only just 40% of those aged 65 or over have also used the internet. It isn’t just the internet which people are afraid of, it is also mobile phones. The cost of getting new technology is increasing quickly.
Scientists have found out that other factors of fear towards technology is losing them. When you lose your phone, you quickly start to panic and according to a survey you may be suffering from nomophobia. The younger generation are getting mobile phones earlier on in life and are starting to become addicted everyday, as they include more games, music, social networking sites and internet access, which will make you use it more. This has caused us to become addicted to checking our phones more. Stats show that 58% of smartphone users do not go one hour without checking their phones. They have also found out what ages spend most of their time checking their phones: 18 to 34 year olds check their phone 68%, 35-44 year olds 61%, 45-54 year olds 55% and the lowest is the older generation of 55 years and older with only 36%. This information shows that the younger generation use their phones more, than the older generation, as they have grown up with this technology and are more addicted to their phones as they are constantly on them. The survey showed that 73% of people feel panicked when they have lose their phones and 7% actually feel sick. However, a small 6% when they lose their phones, actually feel relief, as they do not have to constantly check their phone.In my own experience, I feel quickly panicked when I cannot find my phone and I cannot rest untill I find it. However, I do think that people are being more addicted to it than ever before, as they are always checking social network sites, messages, games and more. I think this, because when people are having a meal, mobile phones always seem to be right next to them while at the table, this could be a sense of protection and knowing where it is. Nowadays, people use their mobile phones more for taking photos, as it is always with them, which allows them to capture images at certain moments.
The daily mail wrote an article about how the fear of using a mobile phone, can link to cancer. Scientists have found out that using a mobile phone can link to brain cancer. Mobile phone users who spend more than an hour a day talking on a mobile phone are almost a 1/3 more likely to be at risk of developing a rare form of brain tumor  The cancer can be found more frequently on the side of the head to which the phone is held. The cancer is caused by the radiation from the mobile phones which shows to alter the workings of brain cells and can affect the memory. However, the biggest study three years ago, found out that there was no evidence of a risk to human health. In the past years, no scientific link between cancer and phones have be found. However, technology has increased which has helped lead to new studies. Evidence shows that: “The more you use phones and the greater number of years you have them, the greater the risk of brain tumors ” I think this will mostly affect the younger generation as they have grown up with mobile phones being normal and will more likely use them. Although the cancer is rare, experts say numbers have increased from one tumor per 100,000 people in 1980 to about one per 80,000 today.

Social

The social factor of the digital divide has helped improve the communication of people through the use of internet and other technologies. People are able to communicate using the internet, such as Skype and other social networking sites. The social aspect enables people to communicate from small or large distances. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are available for everyone who has internet connection. The social factor, however in poorer countries are not able to access the internet, they do not get the social benefits of being online and sharing photos and experiences. However, without the internet they can actually benefit, as social networking sites and other technologies are becoming addicted and people end up not actually talking face to face, but screen to face.
Geographical

The geographical factor of the digital divide is that some people are still unable to receive access to ICT, as their lifestyles do not enable them to have it, also the knowledge and the amount of money new technologies and gadgets cost. Nowadays, some people still in the UK cannot reach broadband to the internet due to this geographical issues in some households in areas are excluded from being able to appreciate the benefits of many online services. People which this applies to can be stuck with extremely slow dial-up connection, which makes it nearly impossible to access the internet and phone access.
For the UK to overcome geographical and technological problems, a range of Information communication technologies have been used to help provide people with internet access. According to a BBC report, wireless technology (WiFi) is helping people in California go online and learn computing skills. A wireless internet connection now spans an area of 150 miles long by 75 miles wide, which helps benefit the geographical factor of the digital divide.
The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said that: "It is precisely in places where no infrastructure exists that WiFi can be particularly effective, helping countries to leapfrog generations of telecommunications technology and infrastructure and empower their people." The UN Secretary is saying that by removing lots of cables to access communities online, wireless can help poorer countries to narrow the digital divide gap and catch up with the countries where the technology has already taken hold, such as the UK.
The map below shows how many internet users there is worldwide. This information was collected in 2008, however by now it would have changed slightly. The pink parts of the map, show the share of the world's users and the other colours show the percentage of the countries population online. The less than 2% of the population online are mainly in Africa, where it harder to afford computers and mostly it is more important to find food and water everyday. The other parts of Africa are also not very high and the highest is between 13% to 25%. However, in countries such as Canada, Australia, North America and most of Europe, the population online is the complete opposite to Africa and it is higher than 35% population. This shows that people in these countries have more money and we are taught how to incorporate the internet into our lives. These countries are also developing new and advanced technologies everyday, which means that people are always wanting the new technology and gadget.

How can the Digital divide gap be reduced?

The digital divide gap can be reduced by schools teaching information communication technologies to the younger generations on how to use different technologies, such as the internet around the world. Information communication technologies should also be incorporated in healthcare, agriculture and other social-economic activities. However, in poorer countries this can only be achieved with more money, so this could be raised from other countries to enable to reduce the gap.The digital divide can also be reduced by ensuring more people have access to the internet and promoting this in rural areas.