This essay discusses how Smart Phones are narrowing the digital divide between African Americans, Latino and white non Hispanics. The paper discusses what can be done on a desktop PC or laptop that can’t be done on a smart phone, why smart phone ownership in third world countries will help close the digital divide, attributes associated with smart phone ownership compared to house hold incomes, and how greater access to the internet will continue to close the digital divide.
Smart phones and mobile devices are the latest technological toy that the sorority of today’s society feels compelled to own. The smart phone market penetration rate is fourteen percent higher among African Americans and Latino then non Hispanic whites. Since smart phones provide many computing capabilities that more expensive personal computers and laptops provide, the digital divide among African Americans and Latino compared to non Hispanic whites is narrowing. The digital divide refers to the gap between different ethnicities access to the internet or information technology based upon socioeconomic differences.
Although some contend that the digital divide is not closing because African Americans and Latino use their smart phones for entertainment rather than using smart phones for empowerment, recent surveys suggest that African Americans and Latino current smart phone use is assisting with closing the digital divide. According to Hood, “60% of Latino, black and young smart phone users often or even always use smart phones for their internet connections. This use of smart phones for internet browsing is far more extensive than by whites.
For instance, while only 26% of whites have smart phones, they are owned by 37% of African Americans and 46% of Latino” (Para. 3). Smart phones are often offered as free devices when users agree to a two year wireless contract with a mobile service provider. With all the latest technological advances of smart phones, there currently isn’t anything you can do better when accessing the internet via a desktop or laptop that you can do when accessing the internet via a smart phone.
A smart phone has the same internet accessing capabilities that desktops and laptops currently have, yet a smart phone is mobile and allows you to access the internet anywhere there is a wife hotshot. The capability to provide ease to internet access via a mobile platform, and t acquire a smart phone for free that can access the internet free via free hot spots has attributed to the number of disadvantaged African Americans and Latino that own smart phones.
African Americans and Latino that potentially could not afford a desktop computer or laptop, and monthly internet bills that own smart phones and use their phones to access the internet contributes to narrowing the digital divide. Smart phones are also helping narrow the global digital divide in developing countries like Africa. African people who once had no internet access at all can achieve basic internet connectivity through the use of a smart phone. According to Hilton (2012), “Never before has a technological innovation been adopted as quickly as the introduction of cell phones in developing nations.
By describing the situation in Africa, where it is estimated 84 million mobiles provide at least elementary internet connectivity’ ( Mobile phones as connectivity to the internet section, Para. 2). The basic internet connectivity provided to third world countries through mobile devices allows users to perform banking transactions in locations where there are no banks or automatic teller machines. An essential part of starting any business in Africa is reaching out to potential customers through their mobile devices.
Africa is projected to have 2 billion people by 2050, poverty is decreasing throughout Africa, Africa is undergoing rapid arbitration, education is growing, and an estimated 500 million people will have access to a mobile phone by the end of 2012. Potential consumers can be reached via their mobile devices and provided the capability to participate in contests and promotions for new businesses. Approximately 38% of households making an income between $50,000 to 75,000 own at least one smart phone, and approximately 53% of households making between $75,000 and $100,000 own at least one smart phone.
There are a few reasons that there is 15% dip for the category $50,000 to $75,000. One reason for the drop off is that smart phone penetration occurs more frequently among the well educated and higher income households. Secondly, people with higher education tend to have higher incomes, and are more capable of purchasing a smart phone at full price rather than getting the phone for free or at a discounted price for signing a wireless contract.
Lastly, cohorts that are not in the $75,000 to $100,000 income range are either too young and don’t have the education yet to secure a high paying job, or they are retired and already out of the workforce. According to Smith, (2013) “Among 18-29 year olds there is a 14 point difference in smart phone ownership rates between those earning less than $30,000 per year and those earning more than $30,000 per year (and smart phone ownership even among lower-income adults is well above the national average).
By contrast, for those 65 and older, there is a 22- point difference between these income cohorts (and Just 5% low-income seniors are mart phone users)” (Smart phone ownership section, Para. 2). The boom in smart phone owners and the internet access it is providing is helping narrow the gap in the digital divide. Greater broadband access for the undeserved will truly help eventually close the digital divide.
Affordable broadband access in low income areas, or undeveloped rural areas will not only help close the digital divide, but broadband access will help raise education levels, increase health in this areas due to greater access to health care information, and raise income levels. Additionally, Witt broadband access in rural areas those that don’t nave a Job an find a Job by performing Job searches on the internet. Smart phones are practically a mobile PC and they provide an abundance of empowerment to their users.
Users that once had no connection into the world wide web in their area are now capable of accessing the internet by owning a smart phone and going to a library or coffee shop that provides a wife hotshot. The ability to procure a smart phone for little to low cost has helped low income families connect to the internet, and narrow the digital divide. Hopefully, the gap will continue to narrow exponentially as more users acquire a smart phone, or broadband inactivity becomes available in their community.