There is a significant digital divide and participation gap when it comes to technology but especially with Internet access. I have been raised through technology and have always had access to the Internet at my own fingertips. Others are so lucky, low-income families and immigrants have a harder time with access to the Internet. Data collected in 2000 showed that 54 million or 51 percent of households in the US had one or more computers. Low-income families have to go somewhere such as a library to get Internet access and don’t have easy access to get there. Because the cost of computers is so high and the rates on Internet suppliers are also so high, families aren’t able to budget their money to afford it. The digital divide I believe is gradually decreasing because the access to Internet is becoming easier because of smart phones, tablets, and computers. More and more people are able to afford these technologies because the wide range of prices and choices. People can buy used computers or phones for cheap and therefore they have an easy access to the Internet. Even though I believe the gap is getting smaller, it still is very large and it will take some time for the gap to close.
Right now the participation gap is very big. People use the Internet for a wide variety of reasons. A huge part of this gap has to do with education and the way you were raised with technology. More and more schools are implementing the Internet and technology into their criteria and teaching styles. When I was in elementary and middle school, I took typing classes and learned all different ways to use the Internet and computers. Some people are as fortunate and do not have this in their schools. Those who aren’t taught how to use the technologies when they are young are at a disadvantage are likely not to use the Internet or not know the ins and outs of it. Another large part of the gap is the invention of smartphones. People who don’t have a smartphone are at an instant disadvantage because they don’t have Internet access at their fingertips at all times and don’t have the ability to get apps. Also because of privacy reason, people don’t want their personal information getting out on the Internet or someone stealing their identity. Thus, people are less likely to get apps that have low security or seem sketchy.
Looking at the future, I believe the participation gap will rapidly become smaller. Technologies are becoming so easy to access and almost all schools have computers and Internet access so that they can teach their students how to use it. Smartphones and tablets are become less expensive and more people can afford them. These devices allow people to access the Internet and extend the uses of the Internet. People are going to use the Internet and technologies in different ways, some people are more advanced and others don’t know how to use them at all. But in the future everyone will know how to use these technologies and internet access will become more and more available.