Bridging the Digital Divide
Many of us take the internet service we have at work, home, or school for granted. We are so used to having it available almost everywhere we go that we forget it is still considered a luxury for some people, even within our own country.
Many underserved areas’ schools, coffee shops, and other public facilities do not have Wi-Fi, and it is a financial struggle to pay for internet services at home for many low-income families. Despite this fact, the world is moving ahead and transferring more and more day-to-day tasks onto the global network. Today, internet access is often required for such basic activities as applying for a job or completing a homework assignment. Even in areas where public libraries do provide internet access, individuals may have little experience in knowing how to browse the web and look for jobs and social services. In addition, not all schools emphasize the importance of being educated in digital media and gaining computer skills. Such inequality creates a digital divide between communities. Very often this issue is overlooked, and living in a monopolistic society where internet companies have little competition makes it difficult to get internet service at an affordable price.
Some non-profit organizations are trying to bring internet access to underserved areas by providing classes and activities focused on improving kids’ computer skills. Other organizations, like KC Freedom Network in Kansas City, bring internet service to low-income households. KC Freedom Network came up with the idea to create hotspots in low-income neighborhoods where two dishes give off an internet signal to all residents within a radius of eight miles. Although the quality and speed of the internet is not the best, many community members are happy to have access at all.
In an effort to increase knowledge of digital media, Urban Gateways artist Samantha Hill teaches her students about the basics of graphic novel creation. By learning how to use a computer as well as the various programs and software in creating digital media, children develop a new set of skills that are so necessary in today’s society.