Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Participation Gap in the U.S.

In 2007, a study showed that only 65.1% of students used their own laptops. However, a more recent study by the PEW Research Center showed that 88% of adults now have cell phones. This shows that the digital divide is coming to an end in the U.S. However, the same does not go for the participation gap.

The dark red color represents areas who have the lowest digital divide. The United States is included in the small handful of countries that all under this category. 

Digital Divide Falling

"The international "digital divide" is closing at a steady fall." -United Nations Telecoms Agency
The study from 2007 showed that Blacks and Hispanics are the ones who mostly don't have Internet in their homes. While they don't have Internet in their homes, the PEW study showed that Blacks and Hispanics used the Internet from their mobile devices more than any other race. The 2007 study didn't take into consideration the use of mobile devices, which may have skewed the research towards making people believe there's a digital divide. In a few years, we can expect the digital divide to be basically gone. 

Participation Gap an Ongoing Issue

The PEW study showed that only 17% of cell phone owners use their mobile device as their prime source for online browsing. This proves that everyone uses different devices, whether it'd be a mobile device, a personal laptop computer, or a public computer, to browse online. Some people don't have access to different types of technology due to many reasons, therefore, the participation gap can never be completely closed. In a few years, the participation gap will still exist, but it will be dramatically smaller. 

Usage of Mobile Devices will Boom

In the near future, the majority of people will browse the Internet from some sort of mobile device. It could be a tablet, phone, or perhaps even something else that will be invented soon. The convenience of having a portable device that can do anything a computer can everywhere you go will cause this shift. With all of these technological advancements in the mobile world, using a mobile device as a primary source for internet browsing is seeming more and more practical. 

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