The Pew Internet and American Life Project (Pew/Internet; Lenhart, Horrigan, Rainie et al., 2003) reports 42 percent of Americans say they do not use the Internet, with 24 percent being truly off-line with no direct or indirect experience with the Internet. However, these percentages represent averages and don’t pertain uniformly across all subpopulations. Pew/Internet (Fox, 2005) reports Americans age 65 and older, African-Americans, and those with less education lag behind others in Internet usage. The present article examines the impact of these differences on social equity in terms of receiving fair, just, and equitable treatment by the political system regarding public policies and services.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Digital Divide: The division between those individuals who have reasonable access to the Internet and those who do not. Digital divide can also refer to differences in computer ownership and skills in using information technology.
Digital inclusion: The process of expanding access to computing technology to better serve individuals and communities on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Infopoverty: The lack of access to basic information that hinders individuals and communities from improving their circumstances (Stewart, 2000).
Social Equity: The principle that each member of society has a right to be given fair, just, and equitable treatment by the political system in terms of public policies and services.
Social Capital: The degree to which individuals in a society collaborate and cooperate, through such mechanisms as networks, to achieve mutual benefits (Putnam, 2000).
Digital Competency: The ability to apply computer skills and knowledge, especially as these skills pertaining to Internet usage.
Cyberpower: The effects of online access on an individual’s ability to do something or get something done.