Digital Divide

20% of Europeans have never used the internet. As computers become increasingly involved in all aspects of daily life and work, is Europe facing a divide between the digital “haves” and “have nots”. Technology promises a bright future for some, but are others being left in the dark?

Studies have long been arguing that a “digital divide” exists between young, trendy metropolitans with disposable income who are comfortable with the whirlwind pace of technological change, and older people, poorer people, and people living in rural areas. That’s a generalisation and there are obviously many individual exceptions, but it’s undeniable that some Europeans can more easily reap the benefits of technology than others. In Greece, for example, almost one in four disadvantaged 15-year-olds can only access the internet at school, whereas the equivalent figure is only 2% in the Netherlands.

Want to learn more about the divide in access to technology in Europe? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

Digital-Divide_UPDATE

We had a comment from Karel arguing that more consideration needs to be paid to access to technologies, and warning that it was important that the “digital gap” in Europe should not widen further.

To get a response, we spoke to David Calle, a popular Spanish YouTuber and founder of Unicoos, an e-learning website that helps students learn about maths, physics, and chemistry online. Does he think that technology, including online video, is primarily benefiting younger, wealthier Europeans? In other words, what about all the people who can’t afford (or can’t understand) a shiny new tablet or smartphone?

For another perspective, we also spoke to Patry Jordan, a popular YouTuber whose channel, ‘Secretos de Chicas’, has over two million subscribers. She was more optimistic about the benefits that technology could bring:

How can we avoid a ‘digital divide’ in Europe? Is society dividing into those who can afford the latest gadgets and gizmos, and those stuck in the 20th Century? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Matthias Palmetshofer


32 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • avatar
      Tony Muniz

      I don’t believe it has anything to do with have and have nots. Or with capitalism or communism. I run a business online and live in a part of Spain where the internet service is pathetic and pay more than other parts of the country were they have higher speeds/fiberoptic lines. So it is not a question of have and have nots here. It is more of a political decision to not force companies to invest in bringing lines up to date. Our line is more than 25 years old and our service provider makes billions in profit. So why are our lines not updated? Because it is not profitable for them. Or having the government provide the service which can be free or at an acceptable amount. And as far as devices go. My towns government provides workshops for people who do not know how to use devices so they can learn. As well as having internet service and computers in our cultural center free to use.

  1. avatar
    nando

    Education, education, education. Technology adoption follows phases. Every marketeer knows this. There are the “innovators” who buy it and use it before it even hits the shops. Then there are the “early adopters”, then the “late adopters” and then there are the “laggards”. The names speak for themselves.
    So, the fact that there are 20% Europeans who have not used the Internet is NO big deal. The are the “laggards”. They need a different type of campaign to get to use the technology. Every marketeer knows that and knows how to handle it.
    Let us get onto the needed campaigns and stop calling it a problem.

  2. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Education, education, education. Technology adoption follows phases. Every marketeer knows this. There are the “innovators” who buy it and use it before it even hits the shops. Then there are the “early adopters”, then the “late adopters” and then there are the “laggards”. The names speak for themselves.
    So, the fact that there are 20% Europeans who have not used the Internet is NO big deal. They are the “laggards”. They need a different type of campaign to get to use the technology. Every marketeer knows that and knows how to handle it.
    Let us get onto the needed campaigns and stop calling it a problem.

  3. avatar
    Nigel Ecclesfield

    Debating Europe sounds too formal, sounds a bit like “this house wants it both ways” to which Kenneth Tynan’s response that ” as far as I know there are forty seven ways of having it and that doesn’t include the one on top of a grand piano.” On a more serious point the issue is about an engaged and participative polity in Europe and getting people to become part of a wider discussion and political process. Hence my previous comment. :)

  4. avatar
    Peter Harvey

    I can remember a time when, I am sure, 20% of Europeans (at least) had never used a telephone, or a television, or …

  5. avatar
    Charlie Karlsson

    There has always been a divide: the phone divide, the radio divide, the TV divide, the mobile phone divide and now the Internet divide. The static perspective is not enough. Please apply a dynamic perspective.

  6. avatar
    Rui Duarte

    I like the XXth century. People should not be excluded just because they don’t like to use smart phones.

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      How clever! Or did you invent a time machine keeping YOU young forever?

  7. avatar
    Marie Yvette

    You are right, many people in Europe that have any knowledge of modern ways to contact, your are talking about
    internert, even a simple phone, television by satellite? How they can participate, like this in Europe future?

  8. avatar
    Emil Panayotoff

    Well I have the latest gadgets but I would love to go back to the previous century. .. really. .. people are so fake and superficial. I don’t think I appreciate the world of today

  9. avatar
    David Hands

    I would have thought that the majority of those who have “never used the internet” are in that position out of choice, not poverty or ignorance.

  10. avatar
    Любомир Иванчев

    Stop trying to solve fake problems. First – more and more people are using the internet and related IT technology. Only 10 years ago nearly half of the people in Europe and the US weren’t using it. The fact they are only 20% now means it’s slowly becoming the norm as generations come and go. So in another 10 years, this “problem” would have solved itself.
    Second – how is this a problem at all? What are it’s negative effects on society, or economy, or ecology? Probably 99% of europeans can’t drive a 18-wheeler truck. So what?

  11. avatar
    Paul X

    I have to laugh at your “initiatives to close the gap”….Google?…MOOC?….Open Education Europa?…just how exactly are these going to help those who cannot access the internet?

    You will most likely find that the majority of people who do not use the internet are living in areas where there is no availability, ISP’s will not provide services to remote areas where there is not enough potential customers to justify the expense , the problem lies with them, not any sort of social inequality

  12. avatar
    Toni Muñiz

    First and foremost, make it affordable and competitive. Making companies that provide the service keep lines updated. In my town I receive 1MB and pay 50 euros. It is insane. 3rd world connectivity in Europe. As I see it, this should be a service provided by the cities free of charge or at a minimum charge, so it reaches everyone. Interesting enough in my city we do have an open wifi, but being a rural area and large expansion, the free open service does not reach my property. So need to pay for a hardline that has not been updated in 25 years. Look at the pathetic speeds I get in Spain, again, paying 50euros. http://www.speedtest.net/result/4794723334.png

  13. avatar
    Ferenc Lázár

    The problem is becoming more and more serious for elderly, who aren’t able to learn using the Internet! Think about them before all services like health, social services, finances started not to respond the phone calls and kind of forcing everybody to use it! The internet is good but shouldn’t become the only option..

  14. avatar
    Marijus Stasiulis

    Well i don’t use TV and my father does not use internet.
    Also i don’t use smartphone.
    Is there a problem with people choice?

  15. avatar
    Björn Eric Ingemar Grahn

    Make it accountebule for all countries to have almoust 100% of internet coverege and a flat rate on mobile services is a must. also introduce that internet nodes and mobile communication transmitters must have at least 1 week of running without electric. and aslo on internet nodes must in eu be in MESH and no singel point of failure. Unfuruntley iven when its criticule its note often the case. Oche here in North Sweden even the hospitals lost their abilety to operate due to no Internet accsess. That’s also due to that all jurnals is stord in a central location in this regon.

    also a minimum of speed garantee of 50% at regular hi loads. And boradband only if its more that 30Mbit/s

  16. avatar
    ewropano

    It is above all a matter of generation. For young people, it is easier: If they have a little problem, they have lots of friends around to help them. If they have a big one, they have also their parents to cash. Many people of the old generation simply don’t trust new tehnologies at all, or are not patient enough to stand the flow of conditions you have to fulfill to do anything: subscribe to this, download that, send your CV and other personal details, accept draconian conditions of use or loose the time used with the previous steps… So they use IT only when they can’t do otherwise…

    • avatar
      ewropano

      erratum: loose -> lose

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