Despite the growth of the online population in the United States, substantial inequities in the capacity to use the internet remain. Some scholars claim time and market forces will effectively resolve the issue, and official policy has declared the problem essentially solved. This misrepresents the underlying issues in technology inequality. The concept of digital citizenship-the ability to participate in society online-highlights the continued need for policy that promotes effective use of the internet, including literacy, skills, and regular access. Educational competencies are crucial for digital citizenship, just as they are for political participation both online and offline. Race and ethnicity continue to matter for digital inequality, despite evidence that African-Americans, and in some cases Latinos, have even more positive attitudes toward technology than similarly-situated whites. Research suggests that structural disadvantages, including unequal educational opportunities, link technology disparities to other inequalities in society. Politics online exhibits substantial benefits for participation and greater access to government, especially in its ability to mobilize younger people. Indeed, the internet may enable participation in new ways both online and offline for some, while raising greater barriers for others. Without greater attention to fostering widespread digital citizenship, society risks creating even greater political inequality.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)