Medicology, 2007, Digital Divide Simulator, [Online], Available: http://mediacology.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/dgital-divide.jpg [Accessed 24/04/08]

The impact of the Global Digital Divide

The digital divide causes a significant problem in many struggling parts of the world. “As of 2003, only seven percent of the world's 6.4 billion people have had access to the World Wide Web” [Ryder M, 2005].  The parts of the world that have a predominant amount of internet access is the western world, the United States, Europe and Northern Asia, where as access is more restricted in the poorer less developed parts of the world such as Africa, India and southern parts of Asia.  These poorer nations are unable to afford the initial start up cost to be able to invest into technology to allow their nation to be able to have and maintain internet access.   This puts these countries at a competitive and economic disadvantage.  This is due to the fact that it impacts on society at many levels.  By a country not having internet access, it means that schools are unable to teach IT skills and take advantage of the vast amount of information available on the web.    With a lack of IT skills people from these countries are unable to compete at an international level.

In contrast the richer countries benefit from more highly trained people who will in turn enable higher economic growth.   In urban areas more people seem to have internet access as opposed to rural areas causing yet another divide.   Also countries that don’t have internet access are unable to carry out e-commerce and e-business putting their companies at a significant disadvantage with in the global market.

The Language Barrier
There is a significant problem with the available languages on the internet, thus causing a communication barrier for certain countries.  The web mainly consists of websites written in English.  “By the year 2000, only 20% of all Web sites in the world were in languages other than English, and most of these were in Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese” [Ryder M, 2005]. The less developed countries as mentioned previously such as Africa, Southern Asia and parts of India have very few people that can understand English.  “Less than ten percent of people are English-literate while the rest, more than two billion, speak languages that are sparsely represented on the Web” [Ryder M, 2005].  As these countries don’t have internet access there isn’t any market demand to create sites in these languages.  So the cycle of not using the internet as they can’t understand it and the internet not having the demand to incorporate different languages will continue until policy makers intervene.

The Rich getting Richer at the Disadvantage of the Poor
The digital divide is not just a global divide it is a regional divide as well.  The rich can afford internet access and advancements in technology.  However the poorer members of society aren’t able to afford internet access payments and IT equipment.  In essence the rich are getting richer with the advantage of access to the internet information and reaping the rewards of e-commerce and e-business, while the poorer members of society aren’t able to keep up.

The Digital Divide between Old and Young Generation
The internet is growing at a significant rate.  Many companies are moving their activities onto the internet, and new businesses are being developed that operate purely on the internet.  There is a vast amount of information available on the net and social networking sites allow friends and family to keep in touch.  There is a significant divide present between the older and younger generation.  “Only 34 percent of the 34.5 million Americans over age 65 use the Internet compared to 89 percent of 18 to 28 year-olds and 86 percent of 29 to 40 year-olds.” [Bistreich L, 2007].  The older generation didn’t have the internet through their education, so where never taught IT skills.  This leaves senior citizens out of touch with society, friends and family on the internet, businesses and information for a large proportion of the population.

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