What can we do about the digital divide in our society

Human HeadHave you ever wondered why it is so hard for some people to come to grips with the technology revolution?

You’re never too old to benefit from the technological evolution and what the internet can do for you.   The demographic that are classed as senior citizens have some major problems with understanding new technology, the internet and the web, not all mind you but there is a fair proportion who believe that technology, the internet and the web are evil and are better left alone.

In some situations it is, but most of the time technology and the internet needs to be looked at as just another tool for business, government or personal use.

Like a hammer you are always going to use the one that fits the purpose. Hammer in a nail then use a normal hammer but to knock down a wall you’re going to need “Mr Sledge”. The same is true about using technology.  A mobile phone to most people is a communication device and it still is but the new smart phones are really the next evolutionary step up, but you can still buy and use a mobile phone that is just a phone.

The more people that embrace the technology the more main stream it becomes and the more it becomes an important component of our normal lives. Our communities problems arise when the technology is not embraced by the whole population and those who fear the technology become further isolated from the rest of us. The assumption by the rest of us that they need to “get over it” and just “get with the program” will not wash for most of the people who are against the changes or just scared of the implementation of new things.

In addition there are other areas of the population who have not had access to new technology and the internet due to where they live or how they have been brought up. If you are a government department who supports the underprivileged, senior citizens or remote communities it is no use trying to contact your customers through SEO, websites and other internet based processes when all they have is a landline, a fax or a satellite phone in their communities. Furthermore, if the younger people in the communities have not had the opportunities to join the technology revolution and learn the new “stuff” what chance do the aged people there have.

My 86 year old father in law joined Facebook recently and the response from the rest of the family was profound. Even more importantly he started to digitise all of his old photographs and uploading them which created an even bigger stir in my family community. This has given him a purpose and an opportunity to get that entire family heritage out to the rest of his family. Considering his family is all over the world we are all connected in our digital lounge room. In contrast my parents are connected to the internet and only use email to keep in contact. They seldom use the internet for anything else because they believes it is unsafe and unnecessary, but my father is also in the process of digitising his life and the number of books he has written so that one day he will be able to send them to someone who would like to read them.

Maybe the NBN will improve the situations in the remote communities but how long will that take and will it happen soon no one seems to know. Some of the less remote areas of Australia have been connected on high speed broadband but these communities are at a loss to what to do with it and how it will benefit their lives, yes you can get information and you can access
government resources faster but what are you going to do with the information when you have it?  Some of the ISP’s are having problems on how to price their plans using the NBN, so if the experts are having problems what hope have the rest of us.

We have to start looking at ways to reduce the digital divide that is in the Australian community. We have to start educating these groups of people. Those who are not benefiting from the technology need our help. They need the same advantages for their community that is created by technology and the internet that the rest of us take for granted.

Posted in IT Security.