Smartphones and the Digital Divide

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With new technologies come, at least at first, newer gaps between those who can afford the new technologies and those who cannot. With the smartphone, this gap is rapidly closing. It is also offering cheaper internet access to those who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

In the United States, the number of people who own a smartphone is, as of this year, at 64%; additionally, 10% of Americans rely on their smartphone for internet access as they do not have broadband access at home; and of households making less than $30,000 per year, 13% are smartphone dependent in this regard.1

Those dependent on their cell phones for internet access use them for innumerous important tasks, including job searchers, healthcare, schoolwork, banking, etc.2 And studies have shown that, contrary to what some may believe, the digital divide (a gap in information technology availability between affluent and less-affluent populations) seems to have shrunk in response to smartphone emergence.3

Thanks to the mobile phone, the world is now a far more interconnected place. Although mobile phones still lag greatly behind laptops with regards to certain features, namely storage space and size, the internet access they provide to such a large percentage of the U.S. population has and will continue to be firmly entrenched in our lives. It is now imperative to adapt to this trend to ensure future relevance, as well as to reach as wide a breadth of people as possible, including those who may not have access to broadband in their homes. Mobile apps and optimized websites are not just a luxury; at this point, they are increasingly becoming the norm. Ask yourself this: When is the last time you have logged onto your website using a mobile device? What you see is probably not easily navigable, and, as such, you may be alienating a large portion of your clientele. Luckily, however, you never have to feel as if you are alone in the endeavor to keep up with technology. Web developers who specialize in mobile apps and websites can help. Contact one today!

          1Aaron Smith, “U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015,” Pew Research Center, April 1st, 2015, http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/
          2Ibid.
          3Wookjoon Sung, “A Study on the Effect of Smartphones on the Digital Divide,” In Proceedings of the 16th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research (2015): 276.

 

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