Everyday I wake up and check email on my iPhone. Everyday I bring my iPad to school. Everyday I sit down at my Mac to surf the web. Everyday I use these electronics to connect to the internet and take for granted a privilege that many people on this world haven’t experienced once due to the digital divide. Iv’e been given many opportunities that have connected me to technology and web resources. My parents are definitely not standard “digital immigrants.” They had computers thrust upon them through work and quickly learned them before the “digital natives” were thriving. According to Prensky, I fall into the category of a “digital native”, I feel like it’s because I was surrounded by technology and good teachers. I definitely don’t think I learned how to use the internet on my own, and maybe that’s simply because I didn’t have to. In my life I haven’t really experienced a native-immigrant relation. While I see some older people struggle with computers, I see their children having similar problems. Likewise most of my peers that I know are good with technology have parents that are as well. This could just arise from having a small sample size, but it is what I’ve observed.
Starting from first grade I used computer programs to explore the world map or learn math. Every year after I’ve been in contact with computers and the internet for research or personal use, so it’s very hard for me to hear that many high schools don’t have access for their students. I never gave a thought to being privileged to have them, but now I really see the importance of all schools, especially elementary level schools. Lower income schools should be helped to get good access to the internet because it really helps students become acclimated to the new digital world as they learn rather than being thrown into the fire later just for wanting to do well in life. This becomes increasingly important if the students are considering college. I am very lucky to attend a top tier university, and I use the internet all the time. Sometimes its for researching, checking assignments, or for hobbies. Being at a university also provides me with access to computer programs for free that usually cost hundreds of dollars such as MatLab or Mathematica. I am also taking programming classes which I hope will help me become even more computer literate.
On the internet I’m the default: a white male. I can go to sites like Reddit without being attacked by racism or sexism. I’m in the majority of internet users as a white male and a sole consumer. I rarely use social media very often to create content. I normally just view and enjoy the content others have made on YouTube, Facebook, or other forms of social media. Since I don’t use these to speak out to the world, they aren’t as important to me as to other users. I’d likely be unaffected if social media disappeared, but I understand for others it can be one of their only lifelines.
Overall I think my position in the digital divide has been created through being surrounded by resources and teachers that understood the importance of learning the technology. I’m able to look at people without the same privileges I had and realize just how important it is to help them out and give them more equal opportunities. It’s very hard for me to imagine my life without computers. They have been so ingrained in me, and as I progress further into my career in sciences I will also need to rely on them even more for data and modeling, researching and publishing.
This post was written by a student, and has been left unedited by the admin.