Study Finds a Narrowing of the Digital Divide

A new study by the National Urban League Policy Institute has found a narrowing of the digital divide in access to broadband Internet services.

According to the latest survey, 67 percent of Whites had access to broadband Internet service compared to 56 percent of Blacks. An earlier survey conducted in 2009 found that 65 percent of Whites had broadband Internet access compared to 46 percent of Blacks.

The authors of the study warn that the results may be somewhat misleading. The narrowing of the gap is undoubtedly due to the fact that African Americans are more likely than Whites to use smartphones and in many cases this is their only access point to the Internet. Whites are more likely than Blacks to have broadband access through computer terminals in their homes. Computer Internet access is viewed as more beneficial for studying, completing homework, applying for jobs, and searching for the right college or university to attend.

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  1. While the digital divide is narrowing, another problem is beginning to surface: the “empowerment divide.” ED refers to what people of color, particularly the young, do when they use the Internet Facebook or Twitter. It’s mostly for entertainment purposes, not for empowering themselves with information so that they can make informed decisions. I see the problem–I teach a course on new media and society–in some of the college students in my class. More can tell me the latest on Beyonce than who represents them in Congress.

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