The New Face of Inequality - Fighting for Technology Access in a Digital Era

Posted on 03/20/2019 @ 02:30 PM

By: Jose R. Aguilar Jr., Education & Youth Programs Intern

To access the internet is to give one the tool to explore the world and open the mind to limitless information. However, this digital access is not spread equally and only favors the few who can afford a high-quality internet connection. It can be said that the ability to interconnect with our world through the use of technology and the internet has pushed us to become a globalized society. With the increasing access to digital resources, our definition of culture is being transformed not only as the sharing of ideas limited by our geographical reach, but culture is now being defined within our mediascape that lives on the internet.

One of the looming concerns about the development of the information age is the distribution of digital resources throughout all communities. The inequality of access to the internet and technology is defined by the digital divide. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the digital divide is a socioeconomic inequality in the access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies such as the internet. The digital divide will be the next main index of social inequality, as societies advance with better education, medicine, and sustainable environments by utilizing technology as a tool. Particularly, for the case of the Latinx divide, it exists, however not to the extent one might think.

Analyzing the specifics of the Latinx demographic, and their internet use, two subgroups stand supreme in trying to narrow the digital divide. According to a Pew Hispanic Trends research article since 2015 both Spanish-Speaking and Immigrant Latinos have to lead the change in increasing internet access, specifically “Latino adults who report using the internet increased 20 percentage points, up from 64% then to 84% in 2015”. Due to the massive push from Spanish-Speaking and Immigrant Latinos, from 2009 to 2015 the number of Immigrant Latinos who utilize the “internet grew from 51% to 78%”. However, access to the internet still holds a great disparity with both hardware and network access. Looking at the Latinx demographic only “45% [had] accessed the internet through a broadband home connection [note that number is] 46%” from 2010 to 2015. More surprising is that “80% of Latino adults [access] the internet via a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet” meaning the Latino market is more susceptible to exploitation for mobile and telecommunication carriers. Furthermore, this inner divide creates a common myth that internet access is equality within itself, but the reality is that having access to a PC and a broadband connection offers more opportunities and advantages that using cellular data. Overall the Latinx continued growth in their internet access despite the economic, language, and accessibility challenges spark the conversation on why Latinx individuals want access to the internet and what for.

Fortunately, with a strategic partnership like Charter Communications, LULAC is able to join the fight for equal internet access and provide our communities access to the internet. Charter has long been a champion for LULAC and our mission to connect our communities. With our technology centers and the help of Charter we have been able to provide free broadband access and computer-related training to students, parents, and low-income individuals around the United States and Puerto Rico. Currently, Charter Communications offers its Spectrum Internet TM Assist (SIA), a program offers High-speed Internet access at an affordable price. Spectrum believes that everyone should have access to reliable, high-speed Internet. To find out more about Spectrum SIA and review the qualification guidelines please visit www.spectrum.com/browse/content/spectrum-internet-assist.html for more information.

Sources: www.pewhispanic.org/2016/07/20/digital-divide-narrows-for-latinos-as-more-spanish-speakers-and-immigrants-go-online/ www.pewinternet.org/2015/11/19/2-job-seeking-in-the-era-of-smartphones-and-social-media

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