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Beyond Access: Digital divide, Internet Use and Gratifications Gained
Unformatted Document Text:  R ETHINKING THE D IGITAL D IVIDE 4 LITERATURE REVIEW Digital divide The Internet and cyberspace may not have fully reached the capacity to create the large- scale social change some have argued it would provide (Gibson, 1995). However, its rapid expansion has generated new social status (Schiller, 2000) and added layers of opportunities to human relationships, communication, information, and ultimately, our own behavior. This expansion of the new technologies has raised concerns about equitable access in under-served social sectors in what is known as the digital divide — i.e., the divide between those with access to the Internet and those without access to the opportunities “connectedness” provides. The digital divide is more than digital; it is a sociological phenomenon reflecting broader contextual factors such as social, economic, cultural, and learning inequalities. Most of the studies clearly illustrate that a range of factors and contextual characteristic are responsible for differences. No single factor — age, race, income, education, geographic location, or government policy — can alone shed sufficient light on the issue to fully understand the access gap (Wahl et al., 2000). The existence of the digital divide has been well documented by age, socio economic status, race and ethnicity, and geography of access (Hirt, Murray, & McBee, 2000, Hoffman & Novak, 1998; Hoffman & Novak 1999; Howard et al., 2001; Kavanaugh & Patterson, 2001; Nie & Erbring, 2000). Many researchers and technologists argue that it remains a persistent problem to this day. Yet, as stated above, the United States government recently made the claim that the digital divide no longer exists in the US, based on the annual report of the NTIA (2000). According to this study, 55% of Americans are now connected from home. Still, even if this is true for some of the original gaps (e.g., gender; Pew Internet and American Life, 2002), persistent gaps appear to still remain in terms of age and socio-economic status, with the poor

Authors: Cho, Jaeho., Zuniga, Homero Gil de., Nah, Seungahn., Humane, Abhiyan., Hwang, Hyunseo., Rojas, Hernando. and Shah, Dhavan.
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background image
R
ETHINKING THE
D
IGITAL
D
IVIDE
4
LITERATURE REVIEW
Digital divide
The Internet and cyberspace may not have fully reached the capacity to create the large-
scale social change some have argued it would provide (Gibson, 1995). However, its rapid
expansion has generated new social status (Schiller, 2000) and added layers of opportunities to
human relationships, communication, information, and ultimately, our own behavior. This
expansion of the new technologies has raised concerns about equitable access in under-served
social sectors in what is known as the digital divide — i.e., the divide between those with access to
the Internet and those without access to the opportunities “connectedness” provides.
The digital divide is more than digital; it is a sociological phenomenon reflecting broader
contextual factors such as social, economic, cultural, and learning inequalities. Most of the studies
clearly illustrate that a range of factors and contextual characteristic are responsible for differences.
No single factor — age, race, income, education, geographic location, or government policy — can
alone shed sufficient light on the issue to fully understand the access gap (Wahl et al., 2000).
The existence of the digital divide has been well documented by age, socio economic
status, race and ethnicity, and geography of access (Hirt, Murray, & McBee, 2000, Hoffman &
Novak, 1998; Hoffman & Novak 1999; Howard et al., 2001; Kavanaugh & Patterson, 2001; Nie
& Erbring, 2000). Many researchers and technologists argue that it remains a persistent problem
to this day. Yet, as stated above, the United States government recently made the claim that the
digital divide no longer exists in the US, based on the annual report of the NTIA (2000).
According to this study, 55% of Americans are now connected from home. Still, even if this is
true for some of the original gaps (e.g., gender; Pew Internet and American Life, 2002),
persistent gaps appear to still remain in terms of age and socio-economic status, with the poor


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