Poverty Digital Divide

In the modern digital era, we are more connected than ever before with individuals able to communicate and express ideas to others more easily than in any other time period. The question remains, though, who is the Internet for and how do we interpret and use it? Much like in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, lower income households are limited in their ability to control and see the reality of the world and other cultures and backgrounds across the Internet. The Internet metaphorically being the outside of the cave, many families struck by poverty are not able to experience the same Internet as others because of cultural and accessibility contexts.

As a young child, I was brought up in a primarily low-income neighborhood. I went to school for several years in this low-income school district and then I moved and transferred into a very wealthy district on the other side of town. It was evident even from the beginning that there was a great disparity of resources in and outside of schools most notably when it came to technology. There was even a difference in how teachers approached students and taught them to solve problems, as in the lower-income district the push was more often to learning in a traditional approach with brute memorization of facts and extensive repetition. On the other hand, the wealthier school district which allowed phone and computer usage in class placed more of an emphasis on using the resources around you, such as the Internet, to your advantage and to find creative ways to solve problems. Furthermore, social circles present in the affluent community would consist of people of different ethnic backgrounds. Integration was easy as people learned to be open to new people and developed cultural sensitivity. Even when I visited my old neighborhood several years later, it felt as if I had grown apart from my old friends and had different mindsets.

Within different income strata, there exist different cultures that prescribe behavior in social and economic frames. According to the NCCP (National Center for Children in Poverty), while 44% of US children were living in low-income families in 2014, “children of color are disproportionately likely to be within the ranks,” with 65% of African American children being in poverty and 62% of American Indian and Hispanic children. This means that for the majority of people in low-income neighborhoods, most of the interactions will be among African American or Hispanic people. This causes individuals in poverty to have a lack of social interaction with people of different backgrounds such as White or Asian. This could have significant effects in professional careers where employees are expected to be able to communicate and work with others of different backgrounds effectively.

Not only is the integration of lower-income households inhibited by environmental factors, but also by the economic factors that prevent lower-income families from being able to adopt or connect with new technologies. Monica Anderson highlights that this in turn causes problems with how efficiently families and students are able to use the internet in what is being called “the homework gap” (para 7). The homework gap, or the disparity between school-age children with high-speed Internet and those without, is particularly notable because of how it demonstrates the inability for many parents to emphasize such a monumentally important factor such as their child’s education. The inability to even receive quality education perpetuates the poverty cycle by dissuading lower-income children from furthering their education and to spend money on necessities or “cultural necessities,” or objects that are perceived as having particular importance within a community.

 

Bibliography

Anderson, Monica. “Lower-income Americans Still Lag in Tech Adoption.” Pew Research Center. March 22, 2017. Accessed December 02, 2018. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/22/digital-divide-persists-even-as-lower-income-americans-make-gains-in-tech-adoption/.

Katz, Vikki S., Carmen Gonzalez, and Kevin Clark. “Digital Inequality and Developmental Trajectories of Low-income, Immigrant, and Minority Children.” Pediatrics. November 01, 2017. Accessed December 03, 2018. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/140/Supplement_2/S132.

Reinhard, Katherine, and Jacqueline Palochko. “Report: More than a Third of College Students Don’t Have Enough Food, Money for Rent.” Themorningcall.com. April 04, 2018. Accessed December 01, 2018. https://www.mcall.com/news/education/mc-nws-college-students-hungry-homeless-20180403-story.html.

 

3 thoughts on “Poverty Digital Divide

  1. Really nice start. I liked how you touched on your personal experience growing up in mostly low-income neighborhood – it’s different perspectives in each paper that really showcase the different aspects of the digital divide. You make good observations and effectively utilize outside sources to support your commentary on how income and socioeconomic status influences one’s relationship with the internet and others. For the amplification, I would suggest that you further expand on each topic’s influence on your life. Have you ever felt like communicating with people from different backgrounds is challenging for you? How was the transition from your low-income school district to your high-income school district? Did you feel behind? Was it difficult to change learning styles? How did they facilitate your technological knowledge (utilizing resources such as the internet) after you transferred?

    -TD

  2. Loved the beginning of your paper with the connection you made to Plato. I think expanding on your experience would strengthen your paper and giving more examples of what you personally had to deal with i.e. how did it feel transferring to a wealthier district? Were you excited or scared of the experience? Did you have trouble “fitting in” or getting used to the idea of using technology so accessibly in school?Do you have an example to further your discussion about how you and your friends felt separated? I think anchoring the essay more towards yourself with the usage of the facts that you include in your last few paragraphs would help tie the essay together. -AA

  3. Your paper was very informative and captivating. I particularly liked your use of statistics and evidence from other writers to support your claims. I agree with the other commenters that you should provide more personal experiences. Where were you in these particular divides? Where did you want to be? Because of your experiences on both sides of the divide, how did you view it? Did these divides shape you into the person you are today? I think this could give your paper a better sense of identity. Over all, great post! -CF

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