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The Digital Divide Destroys Promise and Enforces Bias
From:
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ
Monday, May 20, 2024

 

An inherent intellectual promise can be left to wither before it blossoms, and this is all because of the digital divide.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Technology is truly the key to an amazing future where diseases will be cured, new products will be created, jobs and manufacturing will exist in novel forms, and our entire lifestyles worldwide will realize a New World with AI at the center of it. While this appears to be a world of wonder and promise, it also underscores areas that are being forgotten, misunderstood, or biased against it.

Specifically, I am speaking about those who live in underserved areas where technology is a luxury not afforded to those communities and, in fact, may be restricted on purpose. It sounds nefarious, I know, but it exists.

We must contend with the digital divide, the gap between the haves and the have-nots regarding technology and telecommunication. This divide may exist regarding access to computers, smartphones, the Internet, digital libraries, or even the ability to use the new search engines and ChatGPT, Claude, or other AI aids to research or engage in online learning.

If we stymie learning in any group, what are we doing? A TV ad used to say, “A brain is a terrible thing to waste.” Not providing access to communities with little to no funding wastes all of those brains and denies them their ability to grow and become what they and society need.

Teenagers and young adults between the ages of 3 and 18 with home internet access through a computer were most likely to have parents with a bachelor’s degree or higher (98%) and least likely to have parents with less than a high school diploma (78%). This illustrates the digital divide in family homes.

In elementary school, I experienced how the lack of technology in the home affects learning. The teacher instructed our class to watch a specific TV program over the weekend and write a report on it for Monday classes.

Our home did not have a TV set, but fortunately, my mother and I were to visit an aunt over that weekend, and she had a TV. While everyone enjoyed the family interaction, I had to sit alone in a room and watch a TV program so that I could write a report. It underscored that I was underprivileged, and it stung.

It's like the children who cannot afford school lunch in the cafeteria and must depend on a free lunch, for which some will not be eligible. Again, it is a painful reminder of one's social station and affects self-esteem. How do you suppose children who don't have computers or Internet access in their homes feel? It tells them negative things about themselves, their family, their community, and possibly their race.

I communicate with teachers all over the country. Many tell me that children only have access to computers at school because their families cannot afford them. Even if we give them a computer, they don't have Internet access and couldn't afford it if it were available.

These children are so deprived that when a teacher gives them pajamas paid for by a volunteer, they exclaim they've never had a pair before and want to wear them home to show everyone. These are only a few examples of how we reinforce the class distinction. This arbitrarily enforced digital divide victimizes the entire family. Parents cannot learn online, apply for job opportunities, or even work from home. It is an economic loss for the country.

It also reminds me of the areas in my state that, on purpose, do not provide sidewalks along roads leading to the homes where many of the women work during the day. They must walk on the road or in any green area on the side of the road. How must they feel?

How is the digital divide separated into its discrete elements, and where might we find areas of improvement?

3 Different Areas of the Digital Divide

  1. This divide is not about whether kids have devices; it is about how they use them. To close the gap, active use, like coding, making media, analyzing, and designing, works better than passive like filling out tasks on a tablet.
  2. The lack of equal access to technology training among teachers is the root cause of the digital design divide, which lowers student tech proficiency. Teachers need access to technology in their own classrooms to maintain their skills and increase their ability to relay this to their students.
  3. Access to devices, the Internet, and digital content, as well as issues with how students and teachers with different disabilities can use these resources. Not all digital devices are made accessible to those who have compromised mobility or speech. This is particularly true for students who are non-native English speakers and children who may have problems using a keyboard rather than their voice or may need to use other accessories, such as headphones, to increase attention. Of course, these increase the cost of the technology and decrease the likelihood that it will be made available to them. At what cost do we do this?

Everyone worldwide faces a dilemma: do we deny our people technology or use it for our advancement? This is not a simple question with a simple solution because there are many factors that still must be considered. But if we do not apply this technology, we will not only deny them but everyone the wonders that can be achieved in everything.

Website: www.drfarrell.net

Author's page: http://amzn.to/2rVYB0J

Medium page: https://medium.com/@drpatfarrell

Twitter: @drpatfarrell

Attribution of this material is appreciated.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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