THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
In the last several years, technology has changed how human beingsinteract and even perceive existence in a great way. This change isirreversible and can only get more rapid. A few decades ago,technological devices such as smartphones were unheard. However,today, cell phones are some of the most popular technological devicesin the world. The popularity of these devices has superseded that ofother devices that have been around for longer such as the radio andeven the computer. As new devices are developed, new knowledge ofoperating and utilizing them is required. In most cases, suchknowledge is not readily available thereby creating a knowledge gapin technology literacy known as a digital divide. This concept hasbeen a major subject of study for numerous scholars. This paperexamines one textbook by Bowles and two scholarly articles obtainedfrom the SAGE database, all addressing the concept of the digitaldivide.
The article by van Deursen and van Dijk (2014) summarizes thefindings of research in a sample Dutch population. The study soughtto investigate how socioeconomic variables, such as education level,influence the type and amount of internet usage among senior citizensin the Netherlands. The authors recognized the main types of internetusage as information, news, personal development, social interaction,leisure, commercial transaction, and gaming. The variation on userswas based on gender, age, education, and internet experience. Theresearchers observed that people with low levels of education and thedisabled spend more hours on the web daily during their spare timecompared to employed people and those with higher education levels.
Friemel`s (2014) paper presents the results of a study involving asample of 1105 senior citizens in Switzerland. The study sought toinvestigate the nature of the digital divide among older people (65+years). Factors that influence Internet use among the elderly includeeducation, gender, income, technical interest, pre-retirementcomputer use, and marital status. Other factors includedencouragement by family members and friends as well as privatelearning potential. The findings revealed that older seniors (70+)are more excluded from technology literacy compared to those blow 70years. Some of the reasons that discourage older seniors from usingtechnology include motivational indifference, lack of support, andmedical and mental conditions among others. Thus, the authorconcludes that the current disparity will not last long and will endas seasoned computer users get older.
In Mark Bowles’ book, “Introduction to digital literacy”, theauthor addresses the issue of two emerging classes of peoplecomprising of the digitally literate and illiterate. The authoremphasizes the need to break the trend as he sees it as a riskysituation that will create two other classes of people: those withinformation and those without it. His argument is based on the factthat nearly all information sources are going digital, and theinternet happens to be the largest information resource in the world.Thus, the book offers basic digital knowledge to make readerscomputer literature and empower them to access information andparticipate better in the modern world.
The paper by van Deursen and van Dijk (2014) addresses the issue ofdigital literacy in the Netherlands. The authors explored severalconcepts and theories including the social cognitive theory,technology acceptance model, usage gap, and others. To answer theresearch questions, the authors relied on data collected from aprevious study involving 108,000 people to settle on a sample of 1481adults (eange16- 87 mean 48.2 years). An online survey served wellthe large sample in collecting data. Data was analyzed using thevarimax rotation tool. What is apparently lacking in the research isa proper attribution of other factors that are likely to affectinternet usage such as the type of services offered online by variousentities e.g. health records. Government policies and social trendsimpact how citizens, including seniors, utilize the internet.Ideally, some government departments may use technology more thanothers in delivering services. On the overall, the research isrelevant and well written. The authors have used simple language andapplied a suitable methodology for this type of investigation.
The study by Friemel (2014) uses a large sample of 1105 people fromSwitzerland. The author clearly identifies the research questionsguiding the study. Such an approach clearly indicates the researchpurpose in the abstract of the study thereby making it easier forresearchers to evaluate and skim through the article. The paper alsoprovides valuable statistics on the subject.
The book by Bowles (2013) focuses on providing essential informationon how computers work and traces their history. The book largelytargets audiences with little or no basic knowledge of computertechnology. The book uses simple language for coherence and clearlydocuments the hidden roles of computers in society. Therefore, theauthor succeeds in demystifying what a computer entails to newcomersin the subject. Throughout, the book acknowledges the fact that basicknowledge in digital technology does not result in the enhancedunderstanding of how computers work. Thus, the author dissectscomputer technology to bring out simple tasks that users are familiarwith, such as, listening to audiobooks, but have not looked at themwith the digital perspective.
Friemel vs. vanDeursen and van Dijk
Comparing the article by Friemel (2014) and van Deursen and van Dijkshows that the authors cover almost a similar topic. They are bothinterested in the digital divide. Friemel highlights the growingdigital divide among senior citizens that is based on digitalliteracy while van Deursen and van Dijk focus on the difference inusage amount and type across different age groups. According to vanDeursen and van Dijk, the differences in how people use the internetshould be studied further because they can help to advance digitalliteracy. Their research captures an interesting trend where the lesseducated are using the internet more compared to the educated. Thus,Friemel (2014) attributes age to lowered internet usage among seniorswhile van Deursen and van Dijk attribute the same to lower educationlevels across all generations.
Bowles vs. vanDeursen and van Dijk
Bowles (2013) addresses the core information on the functioning andapplication of computers. While many people may be familiar withbasic computer technology, they knowledge might be limited to desktopunits only. Thus, the author embarks on providing deeper informationon the application of computer technology and what it has enabledhumankind to achieve over the years. Thus, Bowles book as the titlemay suggest, is meant for beginners. Contrariwise, van Deursen andvan Dijk (2014) article is more specialized as it addresses emergingsocial matters emanating from the rise of computers. From van Deursenand van Dijk research, interesting questions arise: are computersmaking people dumber? Does digital literacy have the capacity tolower individuals’ productivity? Such questions are very relevantto employers, who are always concerned about employees wasting workhours on social media sites and playing online video games.
Bowles` (2013) book feels like it is too basic for me given that Ihave had prior courses on digital technology. At the same time, thebook impressed me in the manner that the author explains someconcepts of digital technology that I am aware of, but I lack theknowledge to explain them in simplistic terms to digitally illiteratepeople. Thus, I find the book most appealing to digitally literateindividuals who may need to understand the background functioning ofcomputers and their application. At the same time, the book is a goodstarting point for the digitally illiterate people, as they can learnhow computers work, their primary attributes, and standardterminologies.
Friemel’s (2014) research serves to confirm what is empiricallyobservable among senior citizens. Senior citizens on the highermargin are more likely to face difficulties in using technologycompared to senior citizens on the lower end. What I find problematicis the fact that the author has not indicated the implications of hisfindings. He ought to have looked at the impact of his study resultson projects such as healthcare services offered online. The paperalso highlights some of the problems that face senior citizens.Innovators can take such to develop better technologies that couldenable these users to overcome current challenges such as blindness.
The essay has sampled some cores sources in this class of computerliteracy. The sources have revealed that computer literacy is notjust another field of study but rather a discipline that interactswith others on very many levels. Thus, the exercise has not onlyallowed me to learn basic stuff about computers but has prepared mewell on locating potential sources and databases to sue for futureresearch. Online research skills refined through this assignment willhelp me in my education and career later in life. Therefore, I amgrateful for the opportunity to complete the task.
Bowles, M.(2013). Introduction to digital literacy. San Diego,California: Bridgepoint
Friemel, T.(2014). The digital divide has grown old: Determinants of a digitaldivide among
seniors. NewMedia & Society. 1-19.
Van Deursen, A.and van Djik, J. (2014). The digital divide shifts to differences inusage. New
Media &Society. 16(3) 507–526.