Connect digital divide
by Yi-Fan Chen — Old Dominion University
February 17, 2010 – 23:37
The mobile media have achieved a more international presence than other media that have gone before them and in a much faster speed of time. Because of the fastest growing of the mobile media, many organizations (e.g., International Telecommunication Union; MobileActive.org) and researchers (e.g., Rich Ling— Telenor Research Norway; Jonathan Donner— Microsoft Research India) around the world have documented and studied how people creatively use the mobile media to connect the digital divide. The digital divide often refers to unequal access to the new media, to the new media content, to the new media literacy, and money to pay for the new media services. One significant aspect of the digital divide is the difference between the developed and developing counties’ access to the benefits of the digital media.
In the developed countries, research showed that people use their mobile media for entertainment and socialization activities. For example, “sending and receiving text messages” and “taking a picture” were the most frequent mobile media use on typical day according to the PEW both 2007 and 2009 studies. The data showed a little bit of information seeking activities among the American mobile media users. In 2009, PEW study reported that the African Americans were the fastest growing group to adopt the mobile Internet. They were also the most active users of the mobile Internet than Caucasian or Hispanic adults in the US. Castells et al. commented that African and Hispanics Americans appear to use the mobile media without the need for external help. Charski found that the African and Hispanics Americans’ mobile media ownership and usage levels are higher than then Caucasian Americans. They also used text messaging more than Caucasian Americans. They liked to buy new mobile media and adopt new services sooner.
On the other hand, people in developing world use their mobile media as tools to information, communication, and knowledge that can help reshape their lives, families, communities, and societies. Reports on famers and fishermen showed that the uses of the mobile media can promote social welfare and economic for both providers and consumers. People also sent their money via the text messages to avoid the cost to the bank. In the developing countries, people share their mobile media or buy the prepaid card for their mobile phones. The mobile media are considered to be more accessible and less expensive than the computer. Some scholars interpret that the mobile media mean to connect digital divide. Srivastave argued that people could find the mobile media in remote villages of the developing world but not the Internet. Castells et al. commented that the mobile media divide could be narrowed more rapidly than the Internet divide because the mobile media are less expensive and easy to be used than the Internet. The mobile media are used for business, banking, communication, networking, socialization, information seeking, health, and education purposes.
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