The digital divide exists in some form or another, according to a comprehensive 10-year study by The AMD Global Consumer Advisory Board (GCAB), which examined the Internet gaps among countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, China, and Mexico. These countries represent roughly 70 percent of the global Internet population.
While the digital gap is narrowing in the U.S. and in other countries, specific aspects are widening or are stalled in other connected regions. The report provides compiled analysis of the factors that need to be present for penetration to thrive, such as socioeconomic status (income and education), gender, life stage, and geography.
United States: While many consider the U.S. a global technology leader, it significantly lags behind other developed countries in several important aspects of Internet access and use. Income has been the most important factor in gaining Internet access, with only 18 percent of households earning less than $30,000 connected, compared to 28 percent of the general population. Women and men went online almost equally. Younger Americans (12-to-35) had the highest usage at 80 percent, while only one-third of those over age 65 were online. American Blacks and Hispanics had lower usage rates than whites and Asians. Those living in rural areas and central cities had substantially lower access rates than suburbanites.
United Kingdom: Income is an important distinction among users vs. non-users, as high-earners get closer to saturation. Men lead women in usage, but the gap is narrowing. The overwhelming majority (89 percent) of those aged 16-to-24 were connected in 2002, compared to 14 percent of those over age 65.
According to the 2002 UK Online Report, the most affluent areas - London, and the East and South East of England -are also the most wired.
China: Education made a greater impact on usage than income, as 28 percent of Chinese surfers are lower-income students using university computer labs. Women are closing the gender gap - 41 percent of users are female. People over age 50 accounted for only 3.7 percent of all Internet users, while roughly two-thirds of users were under 35.
Mexico: Poverty, illiteracy and the underdevelopment of the telecommunications infrastructure are big contributors to the low Internet adoption rate. Mexico has the second highest penetration of Web-enabled phones after Chile in Latin America. The country has a greater age divide than gender divide. The report states that 45 percent of Mexican households had at least one member with exposure to the net.
Source: CyberAtlas (cyberatlas.internet.com/)
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