Participation and the Digital Divide

"Caution Digital Divide" (Benevolent, n.d.)
“Caution Digital Divide” (Benevolent, n.d.)

As society becomes increasingly digitally expectant, a divide between those that have access to digital technology and those that have not, has been created. This divide is referred to as the digital divide and is a term used to

“describe the inequalities that exist with respect to the use of the internet and other telecommunication services (Curtin, 2001).

According to the Bentley (2014), in Australia, the digital divide is a result of not being able to access affordable and reliable broadband and this, consequently prevents individuals from being  digital participants (para. 3).

The current student population has been born into a digital world and are digital participants. They are connected to media technologies and communication wherever they go, through the use of mobile devices such as smart phones and laptops. However, for some, this participation is unaffordable and broadband coverage is unreliable.  According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012), “in 2012–13, 98% of households with household income of $120,000 or more had internet access, compared to 57% of households with household income of less than $40,000” Consequently, individuals who can not afford  digital technology are unable to be digital participants, and as a result are excluded from what others consider common and expected communication services offered through the internet. As a result individuals are being left behind and do not have equal access to government services,  job advertisements and home education(Bentely, 2014, para. 8).

In response to unreliable and slow internet services within Australia, the National Broadband Network (NBN) has commenced a nation wide project to upgrade internet infrastructure.  Such investment in infrastructure is beneficial within the education setting as it ensures students have the opportunity to achieve digital technology outcomes, using fast and reliable internet services.  As a result, for many students, education will hopefully bridge the divide between “what the parents can afford and what they would like their children to experience or be fluent in” (Howell, 2012, p. 55).

References

Australian Bureau Statistics. (2012). Household use of inforamation technology, Australia (No 8146.0). Canberra, ACT: Author

Bentley. P. (2014). Lack of affordable broadband creating “digital divide”. ABC News. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/bridging-the-digital-divide/5566644

Curtin. J. (2001). A digital divide in rural and regional Australia [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/Publications_Archive/CIB/cib0102/02CIB01#table1`

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