Digital Inclusion is more than access – it’s about use, especially with youth

The World Economic Forum reports..

[A] new research from the OECD, which found that richer teenagers were more likely to use the internet to search for information or to read news rather than to chat or play video games.

The report, based on data from more than 40 countries, concludes that even when all teenagers, rich and poor, have equal access to the internet, a “digital divide” remains in how they use technology.

There’s a misgiving that “digital natives” know how to use technology to do homework, to get jobs, succeed on the job, to do anything. Unfortunately, knowing the technology doesn’t mean you know strategy.

I do training with all ages on how to use social media. Training with non-youth (certainly 40+) is often about the logistics of using tools (Twitter, Instagram…) such as tagging or when to post. Training with youth is much more about strategy – how to define a purpose and then use the tools to meet that need.

A very simple example: my kids can use Instagram but they are terrible with Google Maps because they don’t drive. They don’t read maps. They have limited experience being responsible for directions. That is something they must learn – as they must learn how to do homework, get a job or keep a job. The OECD report makes a similar conclusion…

While the report acknowledges efforts to close gaps in internet access, it argues that developing all young people’s literacy skills would help to reduce digital inequality.

“Ensuring that every child attains a baseline level of proficiency in reading will do more to create equal opportunities in a digital world than will expanding or subsidising access to high-tech devices and services,” it says.

Kids need to learn. Unfortunately technology without the power to use it runs the risk of deepening the digital divide. Unfocused technology can be distracting – while focused technology pushes the user farther header, faster.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, education, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s