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Latino Digital Divide in Illinois Research Paper


The advent of digital technologies has been applauded for instigating a revolution across all spheres of human activity. Typically, these technologies came with a number of ramifications in the ethical and social realms.

Nonetheless, a careful examination of the pros and cons of digital technologies suggests that the pros outweigh the cons, hence their ubiquity. However, particular social groupings still lag behind in embracing these technologies. A case in point is the Latino community in the state of Illinois, USA.

This paper explores the digital divide between Latinos and Whites in Illinois with a focus on what is being done to bridge it.

Illinois ranks among the top performing states insofar as embracing technology is concerned.1 However, the Latino community in this state trails its white counterparts in the use of digital technologies.

The 2003 Census updates indicate that only 45 percent of Latino households in Illinois were equipped with computers, as compared to the national average of 55 percent.2 Eamon argues that the digital gap between Latinos and Whites is representative of the socioeconomic stratification in the American society.3

High-income households (annual incomes of $50,000 and above), have a higher access to digital technologies than low-income households.4 Latinos in Illinois are mainly low-income earners, because, according to Samuelson and Ciesla, their average annual household income in 2009 was $38,039.5

Therefore, their access to digital technologies is lower compared to Whites, whose average annual household income in the same year was $54,461.6

Further, minority groups usually report lower access to digital technologies compared to dominant groups. For example, in Illinois, only 66 percent of Latino adults accessed the internet in 2010 compared to 77 percent of white adults.7

Moreover, only 45 percent of Latino households had access to broadband internet, as opposed to 65 percent of white households.8

Elsewhere, a report by the Pew Hispanic Centre indicates that as of 2012, the number of Latino adults who owned a smartphone stood at 49 percent.9 In comparison, only 46 percent of white adults owned a smartphone.10

However, Cepeda poses an important question as to whether or not it is enough to assume that since Latinos have a higher access to these phones, they can replicate all the activities that whites carry out in the comfort of their homes using their computers.11

Some of these activities include online job applications, banking activities, and academic work.12 This question makes it plain to stakeholders in Illinois that much is yet to be done to bridge the digital gap between these groups.

Apparently, the Latino community in Illinois needs higher access to computers for the digital gap to be effectively bridged. Training programmes that enhance the computer skills of Latinos should go hand in hand with any increase in computer access.13

In addition, civic education programmes aimed at informing Latinos of the benefits of computer literacy and the internet are advisable.14 Luckily, Illinois has instituted a variety of programmes aimed at achieving these objectives.

The Eliminate the Digital Divide Grant Programme is part of the efforts by Illinois authorities to bridge the digital gap.15 It provides access to digital technologies as well as the needed training.

There are additional programmes such as the Broadband Technology Opportunities Programme (BTOP), Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA), and Getting Illinois Low Income Seniors and People with Disabilities Online Project.16

Coupled with these programmes, the state government has teamed with the federal government to set up numerous public computer centres, which target people without personal computers.17

However, instituting the programmes is just the beginning. The state government needs to expend more effort towards ensuring that these programmes are adequately popularised.

Such a campaign can be made productive by supplying the public with every available detail about the benefits of digital technologies.18

If the Illinois state government takes time to conduct an effective civic education campaign, it will only be a matter of time before the digital divide among its people fades into history.

Bibliography

Cepeda, Esther J. “Albuquerque Journal News. 2013. Web.

DeHart, Monica. “Hermano Entrepreneurs!” Constructing a Latino Diaspora across the Digital Divide.” A Journal of Transnational Studies 13, no. 2/3 (2004): 253-277.

Eamon, Mary Keegan. “Digital Divide in Computer Access and Use Between Poor and Non-Poor Youth.” Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare 31, no. 2 (2004): 91-112.

Hall, Brian S. “ReadWrite. 2013. Web.

Lopez, Mark Hugo, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera and Eileen Patten. Closing the Digital Divide: Latinos and Technology Adoption. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, 2013.

National Council of La Raza. “National Council of La Raza.” NCLR. Web.

Ortiz, Julio Angel. “Re-gaming the digital divide: Broadband, MMOGS and US Latinos.” Paper presented at the iConference, University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign, February 3-6, 2010.

Preciphs, Joi. “Helping bridge the Digital Divide; State Program helps Low-Wage Earners tap into Job Training, Career-Building Opportunities.” Wall Street Journal, 2006. Web.

Prudhomme, Thomas, Allison Clark and Damian Duffy. The Evolution and Application of Digital Divide Research: Building a Digital Community in Illinois. Chicago: Institute of Government & Public Affairs, 2009.

Samuelson, Don and Jim Ciesla. “The Journal of Community Informatics 8, no. 1 (2012). Web.

Footnotes

1. Thomas Prudhomme, Allison Clark and Damian Duffy. The Evolution and Application of Digital Divide Research: Building a Digital Community in Illinois. (Chicago: Institute of Government & Public Affairs, 2009): 120.

2. Ibid., 120.

3. Mary Keegan Eamon, “Digital Divide in Computer Access and Use between Poor and Non-Poor Youth.” Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare 31, no. 2 (June 2004): 91.

4. Monica DeHart, “Hermano Entrepreneurs!” Constructing a Latino Diaspora across the Digital Divide.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 13, no. 2/3 (Winter 2004): 253.

5. National Council of La Raza. “National Council of La Raza.” NCLR

6. Ibid., para. 13.

7. Don Samuelson and Jim Ciesla, “The Getting Illinois Low Income Seniors and People with Disabilities Online Demonstration BTOP SBA project: A Case Study.” The Journal of Community Informatics 8, no. 1 (2012): para. 4

8. Ibid., para. 4.

9. Mark Hugo Lopez, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera and Eileen Patten. “Closing the Digital Divide: Latinos and Technology Adoption.” (Washinton, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, 2013), 6.

10. Ibid., 6.

11. Esther J. Cepeda, “Digital divide closes, but how are minorities using Web?” Albuquerque Journal News. (2013): para. 7

12. Ibid., para. 8.

13. Joi Preciphs, “Helping bridge the Digital Divide; State Program helps Low-Wage Earners tap into Job Training, Career-Building Opportunities.” Wall Street Journal

14. Julio Angel Ortiz, “Re-gaming the digital divide: Broadband, MMOGS and US Latinos.” (iConference, University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign, February 3-6, 2010): 4.

15. Don Samuelson and Jim Ciesla. “The Getting Illinois Low Income Seniors and People with Disabilities Online,” The Journal of Community Informatics 8, no. 1 (2012): para. 3

16. Ibid., para. 2.

17. Ibid., para. 10.

18. Brian S. Hall, “Smartphones Have Bridged the Digital Divide.” ReadWrite. 2013, para. 11

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IvyPanda. "Latino Digital Divide in Illinois." February 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/latino-digital-divide-in-illinois/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Latino Digital Divide in Illinois." February 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/latino-digital-divide-in-illinois/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Latino Digital Divide in Illinois'. 25 February.

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