Equity is defined as being opened or unbiased (Monroe 1). In legal terms, since ancient time, it means everyone has equal opportunities to work, study, live and thrive. So what does it mean in the Information Age, the century in which the Internet, computer, and smartphone play an essential role? If the technical operations were so substantial, then people who know or use that technology have more advantages than people who do not.
Though the Internet is essential for the exercise of the rights associated with the digital citizenships (cyber market, trade, political and online information), the geographic and racial differences were the major obstacle. Digital citizenship includes more meaningful than political involvement, but also success opportunity. Online activities related to wellness, education, housing, government services.
However, not many minor races and low-income people have the opportunities to access or use the Internet frequently, especially in isolated and rural communities. Therefore, created the invisible gap between the Black-Americans and White-American when it comes to using and profiting from the technological opportunities. This essay is a closer look into each separate fields to give the final overview of the problem and propose the necessary change to narrow the gap in the new century.
In a current statement, the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce) concluded that the United States of America is swiftly adopting mobile technologies. This rapid transformation described by the NTIA is technically replacing the old patterns of Internet usage, allowing more people to enter into the Information Age.
However, exceeding the liability and simple connectivity, is what this change in Internet access may cause. Moreover, there is three big question: how does it impact on digital citizenship? Does it open the more convenient network? Alternatively, is this change mark the warning in the lack of Internet access forms?
In the research of Caroline J. Robert, the professor at Department of Political science at the University of Iowa he stated: “The data available from the Pew Research center in 2014 indicated that more than 70% Black-American and minor races group with the income less than $30.000 owned at least a smartphone and use it online. While only 60% of their White peers use or access the internet via smartphone.” Is this mean there are no ethnic inequalities in Internet access? Let take a closer look at the case.
Because of the small form and portability, smartphones provide the more convenient Internet access. A user can easily access the Internet from the outside door, while he/she is traveling or even at work. It is more continuous use than home access. However, the Internet can access anywhere, anytime does not mean it has an overwhelming speed, but indeed, it is much slower than the average computer.
It is obvious when we compare the size and parts of a computer and a smartphone. The fastest 4G LTE, most usual smartphone Internet access is 1 megabyte per second. It is nothing when compared with 1 gigabyte per second on the regular cable internet access (1 gigabyte equals 1024 megabytes).
Further, the lower-income individuals tend to pay cheap plan with limited access time and data. As we know, the average Internet bill for a good connection is about one to two hundred. Also, because the majority of minor communities is low-income people, they need to take more affordable plans. Also, these inexpensive plans have a higher chance of disruption due to the reservation for more expensive plans with more friendly experiment.
The slow speed on the wireless connection is often causing the latency in downloading, uploading or searching for information, which leads to the disadvantages of online connection and dwelling the interest in using the Internet of the users. Also, it causes the troubles to practice digital citizenship which is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use. Simultaneously, it also limited the opportunities to succeed and deprive of those community in term of academic usage.
For example, The research took place in Missouri’s State University in 2014 showed the students who have high G.P.A. were more familiar with technology and educational programs. The majority of students which has high G.P.A are white and Asian ethnic compared with the students who have less than 2.5 G.P.A are Black and Minor races.
It is not a coincidence when most of the research shows that the Black-communities have more inferior quality of education and science due to the lack of capital resources (money) in preparation for an academic career. In the other study conducted at the same time at Chicago University by the Chicago University Department of Science, a statistic revealed that “only 30% of the Black students own a personal computer or have connection continually with the Internet, though the requirement of the school was one computer for one student, while that number was 75% of the White students.” (Harris Poll 4)
Computer especially personal laptop is an indispensable tool in college life. It means the students have a portable workstation which mean they can work anywhere at least they have an internet connection. They will have more control over their work and the time it takes. It is not doubted that smartphone has higher portability than a laptop, but the small screen, the touch keyboard, and slow data transition make it less valuable in term of the workforce than a laptop. Subsequently, there are not many digital devices that support the smartphone connection.
So if a student wants to present his or her research with a smartphone, he or she needs to transfer it into another type of connection and then transfers it to the projector. Also, unfortunately, that type of transition can cause the extremely high latency and data corruption which can kill the whole research data, and ruin the presentation. Further, we can not deny the benefit of the school library with the computer and internet equipment.
However, that is the limited number, a few hundred, when compared with the vast number, more than thousand of students who attended the school. Even if the school afford computers for all of the students, there will be a higher chance of online insecurity likely happen when a student forgets to log out after using, and also high maintenance fee.
The lower percentage of students own a personal computer proved that the lack of personal computer increases the struggle in the educational field and reduce the opportunity to succeed between ethnic indications. Black students understand the general science computation, graphs, translation, plus charts, but they did not have any sufficient skills for more advanced science courses.
These lack of abilities of Black students might explain some of the reasons behind the low percentage of higher education in Black Communities. “Black Americans received 8.1% of the associate degrees and only 6% of the bachelor’s degrees in the past decade. On the other hand, Black females received 5.4% of the bachelor’s degrees in the life sciences, 5.6% of the bachelor’s degrees in mathematics, and 4.7% of the bachelor’s degrees in the physical sciences” (Atwater, Mary Monroe 3).
Further, there is a possibility that the teacher acknowledges Black race as less intelligent or as not as other races. It is not entirely about bias and ethics. It is about how a majority of the students of that race perform.
Frequently, most of the Black Students did excellent at their high school, in term of G.P.A, but they did not participate in any technology science especially the courses that relate to computer and Internet usage. As a personal experiment, I used to see a Black Student who should be at the top of my class but being put down by physics classes.
They know that the higher science courses will low down their G.P.A, also low their chance to get into college. Besides, they do not have adequate capital resources, so they tried to avoid the science sources, but when they get into college, and the high tech science courses become the requirement rather than a selective one, they immediately feel being overwhelmed because they lack experiment with the educational programs or tech in the past.
There are still the Black students who regardless the technology and capital obstacles still complete the doctoral degree with a decent grade. However, that is a small portion of the whole picture. The process which took them to get a doctoral degree was much harder than usual. Also, the equality in degree accomplishment did not happen.
Research on academic-based inequalities has demonstrated that concentrated poverty and segregation affect individual outcomes in education. Additionally, the lack of Internet broadband grew a concentration in the Black America community. “The study case, conducted by Chicago University, revealed an not new but unbelievable context: only 52% of the rural population have internet access, and 68% of the urban population has an Internet connection.”(NTIA, 2014).
More common sense than the high smartphone user or the lack of a personal computer in the college, the lack of Internet access significantly eliminates both social and psychological development of a group or individual. Without internet access, people tend to isolate themselves. Their knowledge and information only limit around their community.
The employment opportunities and the market for their production will be narrowed as well as the profit. For example, if a person wants to find a job, he or she can only submit his or her resume to the local company or sometimes, in town stores. They are indeed, low-income jobs. Nationwide, the whites in all cities, they use the Internet at much higher rates in cities where the most population has access to the Internet.
While African-American neighborhood characteristics live in the rural region, have influenced Internet use, result in the lack of central internet at home and living places. It is crucial to guide that portion of the population to join the digital access. Blacks are ignored the important to have their home computer. While technically, they can use the old traditional technique to transfer and receive information, but they will always slower and get behind the speed of the online connection.
We are now having the answer to the previous questions. Though smartphone Internet access is enabling more people to have access to the digital information, in the long term, it will cause the saturation and slow down of technology usage due to the obstacles in utility, and the lack of supported technologies, plus the latency in connection.
One can hope that as the Digital Age moves forward with the vast production and regulation of the technology devices, the Black-Americans will have more choice when selecting their trustee Internet access. The further the Digital Age goes, the more critical the Internet, and technology become.
“Digital problems are not easy to fix problems just because people do not have the essential access to the digital information; indeed, they are the critical issues because the shortage of connecting the Internet creates illiteracy with innovation” (Horton 3), which is so universal at the 21st century. Even if there is anyone can live without high tech devices, the life of that person will fall below the life quality standard. How can a minority of the population slow down the entire elevation of their society? That is unacceptable.
In the meantime, people will not wait for the price of technologies to get less expensive. Black-American urgently needs a program that can show them the start and their direction to go along with other technologically advanced races in the development of human civilization. They will not have time to wait, so the possible solution is to utilize everything they have from many sources.
Luckily, Blue Tech companies, technology companies which are on the top of their field, have any special program to make their tech more affordable with the low-income and minor races communities. For example, Apple and Microsoft have Tech foundation to support young minor college students with their pieces of equipment for the advance in the educational path. Though these devices are not the newest and fastest ones, they still better than having nothing.