Although the internet has served the purpose of connecting many people together, it has undoubtedly left people behind. Bridgette Wessels expands on this point in her article “Exclusion, Inclusion and the Internet” stating that with the growth of the internet has created a “digital divide” among the population based on “socio-economic position, geographic location, ethnicity and language, as well as educational capacities and digital literacy.” There were some points that stood out to me, especially the statistics on access that Hispanics and non-english speakers had to the internet, which stated that “Internet access for Hispanics (age three years and older) in 2003 was only 37% compared to Internet access for 65% of non-Hispanic whites…” ( Wessels).
I found this article extremely interesting because I felt that I could relate to the message. I grew up in a low income neighborhood, and as a young kid, I did not have internet at my house until I was about 11 or 12 years old in middle school. Before that, the only way that I could actually access the net was by going to my local library, which was about 4 blocks away from my house. When I had to do things such as small research projects, I had to make the trip over to the library, making sure to be on time so that I could use the computers before it closed. Even then, I would have to sign up for a spot and wait in line, sometimes up to an hour just to be able to use a computer for 30 minutes!
The Vermont Square Branch Library located in South Central, Los Angeles, the closest library to my home.
In my community, the library served as the only way for many to access the internet. Even during high school, when I volunteered for community service hours, there were kids that I would see regularly that would come into the library just to be able to use the computer. Once I actually got internet at home, when I was about 11 or 12, I stopped going to the library as much, but even today, when the internet is much more widely available and computer technology is drastically cheaper, there are many who do not have the resources to be able to access the internet from the comfort of their own home, and the library remains as their way to access the internet. Another good point that Wessels makes is that the lack of computer literacy will disadvantage people when it comes to being skilled for jobs. A person who has a computer at home with constant internet access is going to be much more computer savvy than someone who has to go to a computer lab or library to access the internet. This is going to drastically bring down social and economic mobility for people who are in need of it most. I have a brother who was born 7 years after me, and I sometimes find it pretty crazy that he has grown up with internet access his whole life. It makes me feel like those people who say “back in my day…”
The internet serves a great tool for learning. There are websites packed with information and search engines ready to search the web for anything that you can type in. The problem is that this tool is not available to everyone, and that can have a large impact on educational attainment on students, especially those who live in underrepresented communities. Technology is a language, and like other languages, the earlier one begins speaking it the better, because as one grows older, it becomes harder and harder to learn.