As Internet and smartphone usage continues to expand, a population of Americans still refuses new technologies. The Internet is a vital educational and career tool, and thus the technological gap prevents Internet non-users from succeeding in multiple spheres of society.

Up to 10 million U.S. households without Internet say that they would seek Internet if offered a government subsidy, as indicated by Federal Communications Commission estimates. This population overlaps with the 19% of Internet non-users that cite high prices as the greatest barrier to Internet usage, according to Pew Research Center.

However, 34% of the 51 million people lacking Internet say that the Internet isn’t relevant to their lives, and the 32% that believe the Internet is too difficult to use. Roughly two-thirds of households, therefore, won’t be convinced to get broadband at any price.

Administrators are trying to close the technology gap through a series of initiatives. The FCC stated in August that it would give $9 billion to Internet providers like AT&T, Frontier and Windstream in the next six years to establish broadband infrastructure in rural regions. Another FCC program, named Lifeline, intends to subsidize high-speed Internet for low-income Americans in the coming years, and the White House has established a $1 billion annual budget devoted to connecting schools and libraries to the Web.

However, initiatives can only help those who are willing to use the Internet if given more resources. It’s a much more difficult and intangible task to convince low-income Americans that they should seek out community centers and libraries to research things or apply for federal benefits online. It requires a niche initiative to encourage seniors to use the Internet to keep in touch with family members and friends.

As technology progresses, technology gaps will widen, and inequalities in other sectors will follow. It will take a targeted approach by Washington, state governments, and communities to prevent greater damage in the future.

Article via The Washington Post, 22 October 2015

Photo: Old Barn in Vermont via Geoffrey Coelho [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]