The ability to access computers and the internet has become increasingly important for today’s youth to be able to participate fully in the economic, political, and social aspects of not just America, but of the world. However, not everyone has access to this technology or more importantly the skills developed through the use of this technology. The idea of the “digital divide” refers to the growing gap between the underprivileged members of society, especially the poor and ethnic portion of the population who do not have access to computers, the internet or technology programs; and the wealthy, middle-class, and other segments of the population of Americans who do.
With technology continually advancing, the issue of the “digital divide” can no longer be ignored. In our society, where the distribution of wealth is already heavily unbalanced, this digital divide is unbalancing the situation even more. Those with computers and access to the Internet are becoming even richer through the power of information, while those without them are becoming even poorer in comparison. Another issue that the digital divide creates is a lack of diversity in the work force which leads to under representation and a limited perspective that prohibits a segment of society from contributing new ideas.
Bill Clinton once said that rectifying the digital divide, “is the greatest opportunity the U.S. has ever had to lift its people out of poverty and ignorance.”
In the last 10 or so years millions of dollars have been pumped into STEM programs to rectify the problem. STEM programs or Science Technology Engineering and Math programs are great as an introduction to technology but these programs fail to teach individuals any type of practical skill that they can use to get ahead and unfortunately a majority of the money for these programs has gone into building computer labs that go mostly unused because there are not enough quality technology programs being created in the underserved communities where these computer labs are located.
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