The digital divide in the age of technology

Access to technology has always been somewhat traumatic for certain people. In my opinion, there are seven factors that can cause a digital divide in information technology (IT): geographic, social, cultural, economic, ethnic, gender and age.

If we analyze these in detail, the geographical factors concern the peripheral areas that are left out of telecommunication operators plans when developing high-speed internet Access networks, such as fiber and 5G; the social factors are linked to the limited access to new technology that some more disadvantaged classes have; the cultural factors relate to the use of the internet and the educational level of the population; the economic factors are explained by operators’ high internet access costs; the ethnic factors are directly connected to social, cultural and economic factors and show disadvantages for some ethnic groups when it come to internet access; gender also figures in the relationship regarding the use of technology; and age is clearly a barrier towards technological change and development for many of the older generation.

Technological autism

The great surge of IT in Latin America, much higher in some cases than many European countries is interesting, and would make a good study. However, despite the bounty of information that statistics provide, I want to focus on the big problem that will take place in the coming years.

Inevitably, and more so in our region, there are people who for various reasons show an almost genetic rejection of technology. It is not a problem of the millennials or the so-called digital natives. I am talking about people who were born between the 50s, 60s and 70s, some already retired and others in the process of doing so, who in some cases have not yet joined the digital world.

These people, in my opinion, run the risk of falling into a state of loneliness an incomprehension. While the majority of the population uses social networks, push notification systems (WhatsApp, for example), email, video conferencing and everything else that will come, others live their lives as before, with an air of nostalgia, without realizing that we are in the 21st century and that the world has simply changed.

The perspectives are worrying from this point of view, as according to a report this very month from the Galician Institute of Statistics (IGE), Galicians have increased their life expectancy over the last 18 years by more than three years.

This technological autism will surely contribute to the appearance of a kind of technological outcast, who roams towns and cities, misunderstood, nostalgic and with the classic excuse that the past was better than now.

Quality of life

It is neither better nor worse, we are simply living different times that force us to evolve towards a change that seems unstoppable. What for young people today is something inherent in their lives, with school children being taught from an early age with touch screens projectors, laptops, tablets, smartphones … in the case of older people becomes an obligation that requires great effort. However, this adaptation is absolutely possible.

We all know octogenarians who have adapted to the use of computers, tablets and, above all, mobile phones. Their main reason for doing so is in order to improve their quality of life. It allows them to communicate with their families instantly without any fuss and lets them have quick and simple video-conferences with children, grandchildren and other family members in any part of the world.

We must remember the opposition to the use of the mobile phone in the 90s, led by a part of the adult population, who would remark: “Why do I want a mobile phone, if anyone wants to talk to me, they can call me at home”. Many of the people who said that then are now fervent mobile phone users, simply because, in today’s society, it has become something of great value.

As a very wise person once said thousands of years ago: “If you want to know the past, then look at your present, this is the result. If you want to know your future, look at your present, this is the cause.

Original article by Jose Antonio Ferreira Dapia, Technology Consultant.
Translated by Conchi Fuentes, Linking English.