The digital divide

A society which is dependent on technology can create inequality. The gap between those who have access to the latest technology and those who do not is called the 'digital divide'.

The digital divide is a global issue as well as a national issue. In the UK it is mostly due to availability of technology and network coverage. Some of the main causes of the digital divide in the UK are:

  • Money - people need money to access the internet and buy the latest devices, such as computers, smartphones and tablets.
  • Location - access to network coverage and high-speed broadband can vary greatly depending on where you live. Most large towns and cities have good network coverage and access, but rural areas can have limited or no coverage. Without these connections, the internet can be slow or non-existent.
  • IT literacy - knowing how to use technology empowers people to make the most of it. People who don't know how to use computers and the internet do not have the opportunities that IT-literate people do.
  • Internet access - the internet provides many opportunities for people who want to access online shopping, banking and job adverts. Students with internet access at home can research or revise with online help. Many universities and schools offer courses online. Social networking helps people make connections and stay in touch.

The global divide

There are different levels of IT access, infrastructure and skills across the world. For example, South Korea has some of the fastest broadband speeds in the world and it is widely accessible, but the opposite is true of Myanmar (Burma).

There are a number of projects that aim to increase access to the internet and technology around the world such as the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project which aims to provide affordable, modern technology to all children in developing countries.