1 November 2016
We all possess at least one digital device which connects us to the world: a Smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc. We can access any fathomable piece of information using these devices as well as control our personal data, keep in touch with our close ones, promote work projects. In short, we manage our lives digitally. Have you ever stopped to consider that many people do not live this way? There are large portions of humanity which have yet to access this technology. In today's modern world, digital inequality affects many population strata and inhibits professional advancement and education. This phenomenon is referred to as a "Digital Gap". In this article, I will elaborate on methods that can lead to bridging this gap.
A Digital gap is a social and financial phenomenon related to the digital technological developments of this age of information. This is actually a gap between populations which live in a defined area (community or state) and have access, skills and device which can make use of said new technologies and populations which lack all these. This is a social and financial inequality between two demographics regarding access to digital technology and its use. In most cases, the gap stems from poverty and financial barriers which lead to inaccessibility to digital technologies. This is mainly reflected in undeveloped national infrastructure (which can be found, for example, in 3rd World Countries) which prevents the population from being exposed to the world web which in turn increases the Digital gap.
There are other aspects of a digital Gap which are reflected in a substantial difference in digital skills. These skills are an element of Digital Literacy which focus on our ability to understand our computer and internet environment and represent a variety of technical, cognitive and social skills required in order to perform tasks and solve problems in a digital environment. Digital literacy includes the ability to work efficiently with various computer software, browse, independently create internet content, etc.
A digitally-literate individual possesses:
Knowledge of the basic principles of computers
Skills in operating computer networks
The ability to participate in online communities and social networks, aware of the behavioral rules.
Critical thinking skills
The ability to find, capture, evaluate, and understand the data uploaded via digital technology
These skills allow workers to evaluate data and information, communicate and maintain social and business relationships and integrate into the workforce optimally. An increasing amount of actions are supported by digital environments. It is therefore clear that the digital literate worker is preferred when recruiting for these activities.
Most of Israeli society uses certain digital products. The main gap appears between computerized populations connected to the internet and those that cannot afford these luxuries. Studies conducted in Israel during the past decade show that there are substantial differences between the different demographics, with age being a factor as well.
The challenge is therefore to reduce the digital Gap in order to minimize the gap between various social sectors and contribute to equal opportunities.
Some foundations and organizations are trying their best to reduce this gap. Hereby are some examples:
"Computers for all children", a project initiated in 1996 by leading Israeli businessmen in partnership with the PMs office to grant computers, software packages and tutorials to underprivileged children.
TAPUACH which specifies in running technological programs throughout the country.
LEHAVA: a government project run by the Ministry of Science, Space and Technology that was meant to teach technological studies to the community for free.