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We all use the Internet differently, and that not only says something about us, but also about the society we live in.
Going at the roots, we encounter the term ‘digital divide’, the gap between the populations of accessing digital technology. Researchers have already identified an extensive list of why it is happening and Robinson et al. (2015) provides a good overview of all possible aspects of this issue, like age, gender or government decisions (Guillen, M. F., & Suárez, 2005).
Iarina Dafin using PowToon (2018)
I created a map of internet penetration rates while researching this topic for my COMP1205 Professional Development module, and it can be used to better understand where we stand. While I was updating the data, I was surprised to find out that not much has changed in the last 3 years. A very small number of countries dramatically improved their situation, while the geographical divide is still apparent, as we can easily identify the North-South problem of uneven development (Reuveny & Thompson, 2007).
Digital inequality feels like a much more modern term (DiMaggio & Hargittai, 2001), as it not only observes that some might not use the Internet, but it also recognises how various people of the world will inevitably use the it in different ways. This is very accurate where I come from, as Romania has a wide variety of Internet users, ranging from tech experts and casual users, all the way to countryfolk that have never used a cellphone.
When it comes to my experience, I cannot imagine doing what I currently do without the Internet and I expect that without it, my life would be much different. I get my news, my knowledge and my entertainment online, I change bits of who I am everyday as I learn, so not having that source of information would only leave me in the dark, unable to reach my full potential.
As further insight into my Internet habits and opinions, I attached my comments from the course MOOC.
Count (no citations): 315 words.
DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E. (2001). From the ‘digital divide’ to ‘digital inequality’: Studying Internet use as penetration increases. Princeton: Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, 4(1), 4-2.
Guillen, M. F., & Suárez, S. L. (2005). Explaining the global digital divide: Economic, political and sociological drivers of cross-national internet us. Social Forces, 84(2), 681-708.
Reuveny, R. X., & Thompson, W. R. (2007). The North–South divide and international studies: A symposium. International Studies Review, 9(4), 556-564.
Robinson, L., Cotten, S. R., Ono, H., Quan-Haase, A., Mesch, G., Chen, W. & Stern, M. J. (2015). Digital inequalities and why they matter. Information, Communication & Society, 18(5), 569-582.
“The Digital Difference: A Comparison” sources
(n.d). Essential guide to Papua New Guinea. Lonely Planet. [Accessed: 26/02/18]
(n.d) Papua New Guinea. Internet World Stats. [Accessed: 26/02/18]
(2016, July 15). Papua New Guinea’s internet is gaining speed. Oxford Business Group. [Accessed: 26/02/18]
Jackson, M. (2017, May 22). ONS 2017 Update – 4.8 Million UK Adults Have Never Used the Internet. ISPreview. [Accessed: 26/02/18]
Cullen, R. (2001). Addressing the digital divide. Online information review, 25(5), 311-320.
Talbot, D. (2016, December 16). The Unacceptable Persistence of the Digital Divide. MIT Technology Review. [Accessed: 26/02/18]
Van Deursen, A. J., & Helsper, E. J. (2017). Collateral benefits of Internet use: Explaining the diverse outcomes of engaging with the Internet. New Media & Society.