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7 Examples of the Digital Divide

 , April 13, 2016 updated on February 20, 2019
The digital divide is a difference in access to technology between nations, regions and based on demographic factors such as income, race and age. The following are common types of digital divide.


Generally speaking, networks are faster and more reliable in urban areas versus rural areas and developed nations versus developing nations. Globally, a significant number of people still live in an area that is not served by wired internet or a mobile network.


Access to computing devices such as computers, networking gear and mobile phones. Low-end devices and aging hardware do not have access to the same services as modern high-end devices. For example, open source office productivity software that requires 8 GB of RAM to run such that a large number of devices on a global basis are unable to run the software.


Access to computers in schools, the effective use of technology in classrooms and teaching of basic technology skills to students. For example, a school where every student has a laptop or tablet versus a school with no computers. Likewise, access to computer science classes and afterschool clubs differ by nation, region and demographic factors such as income.

Defensive Computing

Knowledge of safe computer practices and information security. For example, a school where children are taught about internet safety and defensive computing versus a school where students are provided with technology without any thought to security.

Information Security

Information security requires proper management of devices. This often means that you need to continually upgrade software and hardware at a cost that creates a security divide between people based on income. For example, an individual who can't afford to upgrade their computer every few years may find that their operating system and hardware is no longer supported with security patches.


There are currently more than 6.5 billion active mobile phone subscriptions. In many cases, people who don't have access to sufficient food, shelter, medical services and education do have access to the internet and mobile phones. Mobile technology has been shown to benefit economic activity and access to knowledge in the poorest of nations. However, the cost of these services can be punitively high as a significant percentage of income may be devoted to mobile phone related costs. This is made worse by factors such as monopolies of telecom services that lead to higher prices.


Areas where internet services are blocked by telecom companies or government censors. For example, a nation or telecom company that blocks a useful search engine such that people in that area have more difficulty discovering knowledge.
Overview: Digital Divide
DefinitionA difference in access to technology between nations, regions and people based on demographic factors such as income, race and age.
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