Ezster Hargittai: Digital Natives? Variation in Internet skills and use among members of the net generation

Jen Schradie: The digital production gap: the digital divide and Web 2.0 collide

Eszter Hargittai: Mind the skills gap: the role of Internet know-how and gender in differentiated contributions of Wikipedia

Laura Robinson: Digital Inequalities and why they matter

Matthew Eastin, Vincent Cicchirillo, Amanda Mabry: Extending the Digital Divide Conversation: Examining the knowledge gap through media expectancies

As society continues to change and grow, the ways that people communicate continue to change and grow as well. The Internet, by far, has changed the way people have communicated over the last 40-plus years. From the simple version of Web 2.0, filled with user-friendly groups, chats and other essential platforms, communicating in today’s society is totally different for a young teenager as opposed to an adult growing up during the Vietnam era or late 70s to early 80s.

The Internet is a pivotal part in our society today. It, however, is not fully accessible for all people on the same levels. While it is free and open to the world, the “voices” who control the Internet control what is produced and viewed on the web. Even further, after reading this week’s articles, demographics such as race and age play a part in what is known as the digital divide.

The way that we use the Internet, or Internet know-how, can be broken down in many ways. As for the digital divide, age and race play a huge factor in why the divide exists. When reading the Digital Natives article, race is often associated with socioeconomic status. According to the article, people from different races and backgrounds use the Internet in different ways to stay informed.

In Extending the Digital Divide, Eastin looks at how African Americans, Caucasians and Hispanics use different media to stay informed and find information.

When looking at these two plus the additional articles, it is important to know that we will continue to use the Internet for the things that matter to us the most. In society, everyone is different. We each have a set of things or an agenda of things that spark our interest (e.g. the arts, politics, sports, entertainment) With that being said, as an African American male and growing up in a household where my father watched sports a lot, I gained the concept or idea of liking sports. This is not to say that I do not care about the news, politics and entertainment to say the least. It does mean, however, that sports are a little more important to me. It means that I tend to care more about sports. While I may spend more time searching the web for sports-related articles or information, a Caucasian woman or a Hispanic might be interested in politics or some form of the latest news in entertainment. There is nothing wrong with that.

The problem arises when we have to use the Internet to seek information that we are not fully aware of. Thus, we do not always have the right tools or resources to enable us to find information correctly (e.g. being web savvy, keywords, finding important websites) or we lack the necessary guidance and knowledge of the Internet to voice our opinions concerning certain issues in society (e.g. “silent voices” in blogs as opposed to elite who are heard and seen daily at the click of a mouse).

To decrease the digital divide, we must find more ways to keep people educated and engaged with the trends in society. It does society no good at all to continue to let the elite of society to remain dominant. After all, in our democratic society, the elite are suppose to work in favor of the people. As history has shown us and even viewing society today, this does not always happen. Thus, we have to hold the elite accountable for their job duties. Like the regular government, the voices of the “working class” “up-coming talent” or the everyday people who come up with “innovative ways to change the world through Web must have better access on the Internet. This idea would allow for growth and change. This would stimulate young teenagers as well as adults to trust in the power of the Internet beyond the surface instead of simply giving in to what already exists online (e.g. the powerful elite, algorithms, etc.).

Here is one thing for sure. After thoroughly examining the Extending the Digital Divide, The Myth of Digital Democracy and The People’s Platform, we will always search and look for information that matters to us the most and serves our interests in society. While this is not the best option and it hurts us from a society and global standpoint, it is the hard-cut truth. The more we can educate people to stay informed and teach them the proper ways of using the Internet plus seeking their interests, the less of a digital divide we will have.