Digital divide


In the last decades, the world has known a series of technological advances that have implied profound social and cultural changes. Today, information and communication technologies constitute an essential factor in the development of any country since they allow the exchange of knowledge, services, goods, among other valuable advantages. Unfortunately, not in all regions of the world it is possible to access the technological gadgets that appear every day , in a constant and accelerated way. This dividing line is known as the digital divide .

What is the digital gap?

The expression “digital divide” refers to the gap that exists between those who use the potentialities of information and communication technologies (ICT) for their personal or professional needs and those who do not have access to them or simply do not have access to them. the skills necessary to make use of these .


The notion of digital divide is generally associated with inequalities related to the equipment of a personal computer with Internet access , which usually varies, for example, according to income level, geographic location and ethnic group.

  • What is the digital divide
  • History of the digital divide
  • Types
  • Causes of the digital divide
  • Consequences of the digital divide
  • Examples

What is the digital divide

The expression “digital divide” has its origin in the American expression ” Digital Divide “ that emerged in the late 1990s in the United States . Specifically, this concept refers to the differences that exist between individuals or social groups who have access to information and communication technologies and who are integrated into the so-called “information society” and those who are already excluded from it. who do not have access to it or simply because they do not know how to use the technological tools that are part of it.

However, it is important to emphasize that the digital divide does not only exist between the most developed and developing countries . In the same country, there may be social groups that have the possibility of integrating into the “information society” while other groups remain on the sidelines and excluded from it. The digital divide can also be generational , between the very young and the elderly, between the literate and the illiterate, or between urban populations and rural populations . 

History of the digital divide

The expression of digital divide has its origin in the Anglo-Saxon term “digital divide” , which was used for the first time in 1995 , during the government of US President Bill Clinton. It is not known exactly who was the creator of this term. On the one hand, it is said that it could be the British Simon Moores , who proposed the concept, while on the other hand, it is presumed that it was Lloyd Morrisset , president of the Markle Foundation, the first to pronounce the term, to refer to the disparity that could arise in the United States between the “connected” and the “unconnected . 

Similarly, since the term emerged, it has been used extensively to refer to different types of disparity related to the characteristics of countries, regions, communities, social groups, and individuals. The concept has also been used to refer to telecommunication infrastructures in educational programs.


The digital divide can appear in different forms and can be related to different factors at the same time, as will be seen below:

  • Digital access gap : this type of digital gap refers to social and economic inequalities linked to access to technological equipment and infrastructure. In recent years, new disparities have appeared, related to the ability to access broadband and unlimited connections.
  • Use gap: it is related to the digital divide caused by the use that individuals and social groups make of information and communication technologies.
  • Quality of use gap: concerns the effectiveness of the uses of technologies. There are individuals who have the technical skills to access the networks but do not know how to take advantage of the potential of these resources.

Causes of the digital divide

  • Cost: Even though technological devices are becoming more and more economically accessible, in many countries of the world, a large percentage of the population receives an income below the poverty line. This being the case, they do not have Internet access at home.
  • Lack of access to technological tools: This cause is related both to the type of computer used and to the computer programs and the speed of the connection to access the Internet.
  • Lack of infrastructure : In some rural areas such as jungles, islands and mountain ranges, in which there are few inhabitants, there is not the necessary infrastructure to offer the population an Internet connection.
  • Age: The generational difference also represents a variable in the issue of inequalities around the use of technological tools. As people are older, the use of technologies becomes increasingly complex. On the other hand, for digital natives , that is, those who were born and raised during this digital age, it is easier for them to use all these gadgets. On the other hand, the elderly may feel fearful or insecure when accessing the networks.
  • Education: The level of education is a factor when it comes to the phenomenon of the digital divide since those with a high level of education can take advantage of the potential of technologies both at home and in the professional field.
  • Censorship : Some countries impose restrictions on their inhabitants regarding the information they can access on the network. Obviously, this is another factor that only exacerbates the digital divide even more.

Consequences of the digital divide

  • At a commercial level , those companies that have not been integrated into the information society or have not done so effectively, have greater difficulties in carrying out their negotiations and in taking advantage of all the benefits of digital marketing. This obviously has a negative impact on their business growth.
  • In the field of research , those who have the possibility of consulting the most recent information thanks to access to the networks, have an advantage compared to those who are left out of the possibility of using technological tools.
  • Millions of people are left out of the new ways of communicating and interacting with others and accessing information . Obviously, this represents a clear disadvantage compared to those who can take advantage of the potential of the information society.



Uruguay is an excellent example as a country that has managed to reduce the digital divide considerably in a short time. By 2006, only 1% of the families with the lowest resources had access to the Internet. After a decade, that number has risen to 77%. This was possible thanks to the implementation of the One Laptop per Child model through Plan Ceibal.


According to statistics, Argentina turned out to be the year 2016, one of the countries with the smallest digital gap between men and women. This country has human resources that are easily adapted to digital tools and this allows women to have a good position in the workplace since they can carry out work remotely. However, it is important to note that the technology in Argentina is quite expensive.


It is often heard that Chile is the leading Latin American country in terms of Internet access. However, according to certain statistics, less than half of Chilean families have fixed access to the Internet in their homes. This may be due to the fact that Internet services are priced high in this country.


Currently, according to statistics from the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda of Spain , around five million Spaniards do not have access to the Internet. However, for 2018 the launch of two satellites is planned that will allow rural regions to access at a speed of 30 megabytes and at a cost of 39.90 euros per month, which is a fact that will reduce the digital divide.

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