Digital Divide Still Separates Students

classromm.jpgMany more white children use the Internet than do Hispanic and black students, a reminder that going online is hardly a way of life for everyone.

Two of every three white students – 67 percent – use the Internet, but less than half of blacks and Hispanics do, according to federal data released Tuesday. For Hispanics the figure is 44 percent; for blacks, it’s 47 percent.

No where is this more evident than in Florida.

“This creates incredible barriers for minorities,” said Mark Lloyd, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and an analyst on how communications influence civil rights.

Not using the Internet “narrows their ability to even think about the kind of work they can be doing,” Lloyd said. “It doesn’t prepare them for a world in which they’re going to be expected to know how to do these things.”

Not to mention if they want to Web Designers, computer Programmers, Graphic Artists, Data Base Administrators . . .
Ok, no grows up wanting to be a DB Administrator. But IT can be a great satisifying job, as many computer related jobs can be. But you get the point, without a computer many opportunities are taken away from these children. I’ll go even further than the study and say that race has nothing to do with it, as it often is purposely ignored in these studies, it’s all about the money. I’m betting that income level is a more predictive indicator of whom will have a computer and whom will not.

This is an easy and worthy problem for us web designers to fix! Most of us have an older computer laying around that is only sometimes used. Why not find a nice kid in your neighborhood (or in your kids class at school) and donate it to him. It’ll be a great way to meet your neighbors, improve race relations and open a whole world of opportunity to one or more children (they probably have a brother or sister). Heck you could even go the extra mile and buy the family a years worth of dial up from netzero or someone. Who knows maybe the kid will start e-mailing you with questions like “How do I get tables to look the same in Firefox as they do in IE?” or “Why does IE suck so bad?”