Monday, February 20, 2017

Blog Six: Discussion Leader

This week's readings:

The articles for this week's discussion had many overarching themes, but the one that stood out to me the most was the digital divide. This divide is made up of socioeconomic differences, along with many other characteristics (e.g. race, ethnicity, etc.). I had never taken the time to think about the digital inequality that exists today, because I take for granted my access to the Internet and the skills I've learned.

It was particularly disheartening when I read, "…as things stand, the more privileged stand to benefit from it more than those in less advantageous positions raising concerns about possibly increased rather than decreased inequality resulting from the spread of Internet use across the population” (Hargittai, 2010, p. 109-10).

I had always thought that the main problem with this divide had to do with access to the Internet. However, these articles forced me to look at it from another side. Many times, children may have access to the Internet but have no skills in this area. These two factors work together to form the digital inequality that exists today.

Initially, you would think that this inequality is only spread throughout different ethnicities and races, but as Hargittai and Shaw point out, gender is a factor as well. This was something that was a little surprising to me. I had never taken the time to look at Wikipedia to see who all was editing and creating content, but the article shows that it is primarily male-dominated. I would like to compare the levels of skill among those on social networking sites to see if the gender gap is as wide on these platforms. Do males or females create more content on sites like Facebook and Instagram?

Because I am one of the discussion leaders for this week, I will be presenting an in-class demonstration of a website that brings low-cost Internet to families. also has a Knowledge Center that brings an understanding of how to use the Internet to these families. The two factors discussed in the readings (accessibility and skill) are brought together in hopes of closing the digital divide.

These articles opened my eyes to the digital inequalities around me that many minority groups continually face. These persisting problems must be countered if the playing field is ever going to be leveled for all players. I look forward to discussing my notes from each of the articles with the class this week.

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