Literature Review Digital Divide and Provision of Social Services to Low-Income Individuals


LiteratureReview: Digital Divide and Provision of Social Services to Low-IncomeIndividuals

Thetwenty first century has been the climax of interaction between humanand computers in essence the accessibility of internet and computershas become very important due to the immense growth in economic,political and even social aspects of human lives (Bus,2012).It is however quite unfortunate that this technology is notaccessible to everyone. This is where the aspect of digital dividecomes in, whereby the underprivileged members of our societyincluding those in the rural areas, the elderly as well as thephysically challenged are not in a position to access computers aswell as the internet.

Inhis book, VanDijk, (2013) provides that ithas been a growing gap that has seen the wealthy and the middle classliving in the suburban areas access the technology while the lowincome earners and those with little to none education continue to beincreasingly disconnected with the world. In bid to address thisissue, many scholars and research findings have been done to try andbring to light the reasons for this technological gap as well asprovide solutions for the same. The following is a literature reviewregarding this social inequality.

JohnWihbey (2013) in his article provides that many American families arenot connected to the web most of them are located in poor areaswhich explain the low rates of home computer usage. This has beenblamed on the demographic profiles which contribute significantly tothe access and adoption of the broadband.

Xie(2011) statesin his article that many low income citizens suffer in various ways,for instance lack of health and school information, due to the lackof the technology having a focus on the cultural factors, thedigital divide has been persistent to the people with less education.In this regard, lack of the digital literacy causes the affectedindividuals to distance themselves with the technology even if theyare able to access it. In this case, the scholar advocates foremphasis on the knowledge as well as usage patterns as opposed tojust access.

Du(2004) notes that it is necessary to look deeply into thesocioeconomic issues, educational goals as well as the culturalvalues of the population that is disadvantaged, this is to ensurethat enough knowledge on the importance of computers and internet ispassed on as well as provide access to the same.

Themain aim of technology is to solve the various problems that comewith the social upheavals including changes in rules, norms andcommunication modes. In this regard, computer literacy is viewed as asocial problem. This is because in as much as it has its own negativeeffects, lack of it poses many challenges to human services(Subrahmanyamet al, 2000)

Oneof the major causes of computer literacy is lack of education. Firstof all those individuals who cannot read and write are an obviousobstacle to even the minimum computer literacy this is eminent withpeople who have technological conservatism. Lack of appropriate rolemodels has also led to decreased computer literacy for instance,children who live with parents that are not interested in technologywill have a difficult time in becoming computer literate as we aretold by Jacksonet al (2006).

Accordingto Perron, (2010), universal computer and internet access issomething that we must fight and strive for globally.Internationally, workforces are becoming specialized and lack ofaccess to communicational technologies can pose a great challenge todevelopments as a whole. This is because the technology gap betweenthe ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ has increasingly raisedconcerns.

Someof the circumstances that have led to the computer equity problem asbrought out by John (2013), include isolation factors for instancethe rural population fall behind in computer access as compared tothe urban population this has also been blamed on the lack institutional support for these people. Under-educated and peopleusing English as their second language have also been said to havelow literacy skills in this regard, given that most internet sitesand software packages are in English language, many of these victimshave problems with computers and the web.

Racialminorities have also been identified as lagging behind in computeraccessibility under employed and unemployed individuals who struggleto get by the minimum wages and assistance are not in a position toaccess computers as well this is brought out by Chatterjee,(2002) in his article.In bid to address this social fabric, the need for low cost trainingin computer usage and free access is wanting.A community technology center establishment in the poor and lowincome neighborhoods would help in bringing about computer equity.

Chatterjee,(2002) further notes thatdistribution of wealth which is highly unbalanced in our society hasalso led to the digital divide in this regard, those with flexibleand more access to computers and internet are becoming even richer.This is mostly accelerated by the power of information that comeswith this accessibility while the poor become even poorer. Thesociety that we are in right now, is mostly defined by access toinformation which means that one is left in the digital dark ages ifone does not have access to this technology.

Accordingto research findings, Socio economic divisions are eminent in oursociety with the digital divide compounding the effects in this casethe gap needs to be sealed for the sole purpose of eradicatingilliteracy. In essence, &shy&shy&shy&shy&shy&shy&shy&shyliteracybasic skills must first be taught for technological literacy tothrive and this would actually amount as the greatest opportunity forthe overlooked populations as well as the nation as a whole (Perronet al, 2010). This is because provision of social services wouldhighly improve making every citizen including the economicallydepressed populations.

Themove towards making the society digital is aimed at reducing theimpacts of the inequalities that come with lack of it. Many peopleare not able to access services that are easily accessible throughthe internet. This makes it easy for these people to missopportunities that would have otherwise been of much help to them.The need to address this issue is also due to lack of participationby the affected victims in the information economy in essence thesepeople are not able to participate in public discourse because theyare computer illiterate.

Itis in this regard that comprehensive efforts from both public andprivate players to close the technological gap are necessary toenable the less fortunate to enhance their opportunities. The digitaldivide extends its implications beyond the labor market computerliteracy has increasingly become necessary for citizen participationin the government including obtaining of information and services. Ithas been regarded as a platform for strengthening social networks andparticipation of the low income and rural communities. It is clearthat most offices and programs have taken the digital route thusmaking most of their services online based this means that if onedoes not have basic computer literacy skills, then accessing theservices poses a challenge.

Inconclusion, though the digital divide is a complicated issue, it’sone that can be solved. The policy makers as well as the communitymembers must recognize the importance of access to computers and theinternet. Every basic service has become digitalized and basicallythe government should work on subsidizing internet access for thehouseholds with low incomes. The private sector should also vow toprovide equal services and networks to rural and underservedcommunities.


Xie,B. (2011). Effects of an eHealth literacy intervention for olderadults. Journalof medical Internet research,13(4),e90.

Jackson,L. A., Von Eye, A., Biocca, F. A., Barbatsis, G., Zhao, Y., &ampFitzgerald, H. E. (2006). Does home internet use influence theacademic performance of low-income children?. Developmentalpsychology,42(3),429.

Bus,J. (2012). The Evolution of the Digital Divide.

JohnWihbey. (19 August 2013)., “ComputerUsage and Access in Low-Income Urban Communities,” Computersin Human Behavior, Vol. 29, 1393-1401. doi: Retrieved from

Du,J., Havard, B., Yu, C., &amp Adams, J. (2004). The Impact ofTechnology Use on Low-Income and Minority Students` AcademicAchievement: Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002. OnlineSubmission,4(2),21-38.

Perron,B. E., Taylor, H. O., Glass, J. E., &amp Margerum-Leys, J. (2010).Information and communication technologies in social work. Advancesin social work,11(2),67.

Büyükbay,E. O., &amp Gündüz, O. (2013). An investigation on computer andinternet use for agricultural development in rural areas: A casestudy for Tokat Province in Turkey. AfricanJournal of Biotechnology,10(56),11879-11886.

Subrahmanyam,K., Kraut, R. E., Greenfield, P. M., &amp Gross, E. F. (2000). Theimpact of home computer use on children`s activities and development.Thefuture of children,123-144.

Schloman,B. Information Resources Column:&quot The Digital Divide: How Wideand How Deep?&quot. OnlineJournal of Issues in Nursing. Available: www.

VanDijk, J. A. (2013). 2 A theory of the digital divide1. TheDigital Divide,29.

Chatterjee,N. (2002). Bridging the digital divide: Internet literacy trainingfor outreach and lay health educators. AmericanJournal of Health Education,33(6),368-370.