Despite high-speed internet becoming an increasingly necessary tool at work, home, and in the community, a gap still exists between Americans who do not have internet access and those that do. Whether this digital divide is caused by geographical constraints, financial constraints, or inadequate education, there are a number of resources offering solutions to close the chasm.
Today, 68% of American homes access the internet through a broadband connection, a number that continues to rise with the increasing affordability of service and the expansion of coverage. Initiatives like Comcast’s “Internet Essentials”, a program that qualifies low-income families to receive broadband internet at a lower, more affordable monthly rate, have begun to eliminate the financial strain of adopting broadband internet. Internet service providers also continue to push the boundaries of their service to reach those rural areas that do not yet have high-speed internet; 62% of American farms now have access to the internet, up from 59% in 2009.
While affordability and location remain factors to some, the biggest gap in usage of high-speed internet is that between Americans with college degrees and those with only a high school education. Only 30% of Americans without a college degree are using a broadband connection, compared to the 84% of college degree holders that are connected.
The ability to effectively use technology is an important factor in finding and securing employment, taking advantage of community benefits, and staying abreast of current events. Continuing education programs often offer digital literacy classes for those interested in opening this door of opportunity. Online degree programs also provide tutorials and courses on using the technology necessary to earn a college degree from home. Online bachelor’s, master’s, or accredited online PhD programs have become an option for even those who are not familiar with computers, giving individuals faced with a variety of situations the opportunity to pave their own way to success.