Are All Digital Divides Bad?

The digital divide affects people of different races, genders, and economic backgrounds. For some, the divide can be large and for others it can be small. Throughout the year we have learned in class about the negatives of the digital divide, but is it possible that there are also positives that can come from it as well? As a white middle class citizen, it is hard to believe that the divide is able to affect me as strongly as it has. Since I am a white female, there is a lot that can be understood when observing how the divide affects me personally.

Dot MomMy mom was always a very protective mother growing up, especially when it came to Internet usage. She watched a lot of Dateline shows on the Investigative Discovery Channel and one too many episodes regarding MySpace. Before I even knew what a MySpace was, my mom told me that it was dangerous and made me promise to never get one. Roughly around sixth grade, all of my friends began creating accounts on MySpace. I begged and pleaded to my mom to allow me to have one, but her answer was always no. My friends even tried to convince me to get one behind her back; I was literally the only girl without a MySpace. However, I always stayed true to my promise and said no. This short story speaks to the two large divides that I experienced.

First this speaks to a gender divide. My mom’s primary concern was that a scary man would have bad intentions after speaking with me on MySpace. She was concerned because I was a young girl and she felt that the Internet was an unsafe place for children like me. This still holds true today. It is far too often that we hear horror stories of young females being kidnapped by someone they met through the Internet. Additionally, the Internet is still a dangerous place for women. Often on Facebook we get random friend requests from people we have no mutual friends with. When we post pictures bikinis or tighter clothing, we often know a complete stranger will comment on it or “like” it. Because of all of this, we focus on keeping our accounts private and attempt to keep them as safe and secluded as possible.

Secondly this story speaks to an age divide. My mom did not and does not understand the Internet, especially not MySpace. She looked at it as strictly a place of danger where her daughter should not be; she could not see it as a place where I would be able to express myself and communicate with friends. This age gap affected me because my mother did not actually understand MySpace, and therefore I was never allowed to understand MySpace. Parents are often extremely protective of their young children when it comes to Internet access. Since kindergarten I had a computer, but it did not have Internet access. I did not get a computer with Internet until after I was thirteen. Parents create Internet blockers and things of that nature in the hopes of preventing their children from getting into danger. The divide between parents and children is large on the Internet. Not only are parents trying to protect their children, but also they are simultaneously trying to assimilate them. For example, my mom will often type something and then put the word “smiling” in parenthesis. This proves that the older generation does not quite understand the complexities behind the Internet. Furthermore, neither do we, until we have the chance to dive in on our own and experience it. Once we experience it for ourselves, then we will become much more technologically advanced and have our own sense of understanding.

The digital divide affects all people. Due to these divides, many people have been influenced in different ways. If my mom had not been so protective and cautious, there’s a possibility that I might not have become as responsible online as I currently am. If there had not been an age gap, there’s a possibility I could have had a MySpace. These types of divides have affected me and thus made me the person I am today. We typically view the digital divide as an issue that seems to be unsolvable, however maybe some of these different gaps aren’t actually as bad as we perceive. Maybe these divides are a large part of who we are and, although they make things more challenging, some of them are unchangeable. As a woman I will always be treated differently online and that is something I have come to understand. As a young child I did not understand why my parents were so protective on the Internet, but who is to say that I will not be the same way with my children as technology advances? After reviewing how the digital divide affects me I would say it has impacted me in both positive and negative ways.