When I first read the term ‘Digital Divide’, I thought it is something technical, something not quite related to me, a parent. I just surfed through it on a parenting website out of curiosity and realized that as against my belief, it is rather a social concern.
Simply speaking ‘Digital Divide’ is the gap amongst those who have access to technology more specifically computers and those who do not have access to technology. We all have experienced it but are hardly aware of it.
The gap is quite evident and is at various levels. It exists among the students; it exists among teachers and students and also amongst parents and children.
Why Digital Divide exists?
Just like any other social issue, the source of the problem is awareness and availability.
Let us first talk about availability.
- Some students have access to Internet at home others don’t even have a computer.
- There is a certain category that cannot afford computers.
- Certain rural areas are deprived of the basic facilities, let alone access to computers.
- Some educational institutes have full-fledged computer centers for its students others may just have it in library.
Now comes education and awareness
It so happens that most of the time, the divide exists due to lack of awareness rather than availability.
Think about it.
- How many of us are aware of the fact that computers and Internet are really going to help our children grow into bright and confident individuals? Many do, most don’t
- How many teachers encourage students to surf the net for school projects and assignments? Very few. They hardly use Internet themselves.
- In many rural areas, lack of awareness is more of a problem than lack of availability.
Why is it important to address the Digital Divide?
- Internet has become an important tool for learning.
- Most jobs these days require use of computers.
- Kids using Internet are equipped with ample resources to complete their assignments.
- Internet has become a major source of communication and information.
There is a vast difference of attitude and confidence to face the world among people who use technology and people who don’t use it. There is a need for parents and teachers to accept the importance of computers and expose children to the same. The need is to introduce computers as a necessity and Internet as a tool of learning and expression.
Schools, of late, are paying special attention to this. They are providing equal opportunity to all students to learn and use computers. They encourage students to use Internet to complete their assignments and projects. The digital divide here exists in “outside the school” environment. Parents need to support such efforts on the schools part.
The issue of availability for the economically backward class still remains a major hindrance. Here the concerned government bodies and social organizations need to take the forward step. Projects like Hole in the Wall and Rural Internet Program have already made breakthrough in the concerned area. The idea needs to be taken forward actively.