Digital Divide Persists Even as Lower-Income Americans Make Gains in Tech Adoption

From Pew Research Center Fact Tank Blog by Monica Anderson

Nearly 30 years after the debut of the World Wide Web, internet use, broadband adoption and smartphone ownership have grown rapidly for all Americans – including those who are less well off financially. But even as many aspects of the digital divide have narrowed over time, the digital lives of lower- and higher-income Americans remain markedly different.

Roughly three-in-ten adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year don’t own a smartphone. Nearly half don’t have home broadband services or a traditional computer. And a majority of lower-income Americans are not tablet owners. By comparison, many of these devices are nearly ubiquitous among adults from households earning $100,000 or more a year.  Read the full article

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Digital Divide Spurs Demand for Volunteers

Rochester, New York. An explosion in demand for computer help has led to a critical shortage of volunteers who work to meet the need. Digital Literacy, which places volunteers in local libraries to help patrons learn basic computer skills and complete computer-essential tasks, is experiencing an ever-increasing demand for its services.

“Over the last three years,” says program coordinator Brian Kane, “we’ve gone from serving 600 people to nearly 3,500. There is a huge Digital Divide in the Rochester area. Our program relies heavily on volunteers, and we need more volunteers to help.”

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Digital Literacy trains volunteers and places them in local libraries, where they assist patrons in learning basic computer skills like navigating the web or using Word. They also help patrons complete computer-essential tasks, like creating online accounts, developing resumes, searching for jobs and getting social services.

According to the U.S. Census, about 20% (twenty percent) of Rochester households do not have computers. For the town of Greece, that number is nearly 11% (eleven percent).

Digital Literacy places and supports volunteers in 10 locations around the county. Volunteers need 3 years of experience on a PC, knowledge of Google and its apps, an ability to work with diverse people, patience and flexibility.

For more information about Digital Literacy, contact program coordinator Brian Kane

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Digital Literacy Expands to Gates

 

LVR announced today a new partnership with Gates Public Library. The partnership to provide LVR’s Digital Literacy services to library patrons is supported by the Greece Community Education Literacy Zone, which is funded by the New York State Department of Education.

Digital Literacy is a five-year-old program in which volunteer navigators work one-to-one with program participants and library patrons to teach basic computer skills or assist with computer-essential tasks. By the end of the 2017-18 program year, the program expects to reach nearly 4000 participants in Monroe County.

“We’re excited to see this program expand and be made accessible many more people,” said Nicole Viggiano, director of Greece Community Education.

According to Robert Mahar, LVR executive director, the service has expanded rapidly over the last three years. “We’ve seen growth because there is a strong demand by people who do not want to be left behind by the Digital Divide.”

State Senator Joseph Robach was repeatedly praised for his support during the event. Robach secured funding to install all new computers at the Gates library. Also, he has provided funding for Digital Literacy since its inception.

Greece Community Education Literacy Zone also supports Digital Literacy services at their Alcott Road (Greece) center and Lyell Branch Library (Rochester). All three locations are part of a Literacy Zone designed by the New York State Department of Education.

Digital Literacy navigators currently volunteer at city libraries (Arnett, Frederic Douglass, Lincoln, Lyell, Phillis Wheatley and Sully), Greece Community Education (200 Alcott Road, Greece), Veterans Outreach Center and LVR’s main office at 1600 South Avenue, Rochester.

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The Least Connected People In America

POLITICO
By MARGARET HARDING MCGILL 02/07/2018 05:04 AM EST
Photo by M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO

OROFINO, Idaho — Alexis Coomer’s house isn’t located in a remote area, at least not compared with many of her fellow Nez Perce tribe members on this reservation in north-central Idaho. She lives in the 3,000-person town of Orofino, the go-to place on the reservation where people load up on groceries and other supplies.

But when she needs to type an email, or help her daughter with homework, she drives 6 miles down the road, along the Clearwater River, and pulls into the Teweepuu Community Center, where she works as an administrative and events aide. There, she sits down in front of the computer she uses for work, which has the broadband hookup she lacks at home.

“It’s not that far, but I just hate having to leave my house,” Coomer said. “I’d rather just stay home.”

As broadband internet becomes more and more important in the U.S. — the way Americans do everything from apply for jobs to chatting with their relatives to watching TV — one gap has become more glaring: the difference between those who have broadband and those who don’t. An estimated 24 million people, about 8 percent of Americans, still have no home access to high-speed internet service, defined by the Federal Communications Commission as a download speed of 25 megabits per second. (That’s what the FCC says allows telecommuting or streaming high-definition video.) The overwhelming majority of those people live in rural areas, like farms or in big, poorly served areas like this one.

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