Motivation Underlining Of The Digital Divide

Wiki: Digital Divide and Motivation

The World Wide Web is endless. It contains billions of websites with countless information, but most importantly it has started changing the way we work, learn, and entertain ourselves. There have been almost three billion web pages created since the day the Internet was launched; yet the motivation to use it has not matched its own growth (De Jundar, 1). Thirty-one percent of people in the across The United States do not access the Internet at all and the underlying cause of this fact proves to be motivation to explore this new realm. With possibilities in making money, getting an education, and finding a job, the Internet needs to at least be universally shown and exemplified to those who act hesitant towards its use. The lack of motivation in American society is derived from fear, poverty, and unfamiliarity with technology.

Understanding Non-Internet Users

According to a speech given by Amanda Lenhart of Pew Research center, 54% of people not using the Internet in America think it would not only have no positive value on their lives but actually do them harm. These Americans who never use the Internet have a strong distrust for using it because it can appear from the media as dangerous to privacy and personal safety. An article by Robert LaRose of the respected ACM connects motivation with safety to encourage people to use the Internet coercively with awareness to its dangers. Larose believes personal self-regulation of computer use can be taught to new users, which will in turn prevent them from misguided online threats (LaRose). It becomes the users own personal behavior and interest in online safety that needs to be address to those attempting engaging the web.

In the same speech mentioned above by Lenhart, she mentions that 36% of the same group (non-internet users) doesn’t access the Internet because they view it as difficult to understand and navigate. Motivation partially has to do with lack of skill due to not being taught about how to use a computer when it first became a daily used technology. Motivating safe Internet use to those who can’t use it requires confidence in the accessible teachers, professionals or any skilled user to demonstrate the basics. For those who don’t have access to people with skill, the Internet contains a lot of resources to introduce the basics of Internet usage and discover all of the possibilities it entails. Sites such as have ways of mastering the Internet and overcoming the overwhelming feelings that come with attempting to use a new technology. Subtopics on include things such as mastering the basics, surfing the net, making money, social networks, and many other beneficial uses of the Internet (Lerner 1). Websites that help users realize the vastness of the Internet become direct motivators in continuing Internet use. A lack of how many people really know about these sites remains a motivational issue, but the sites contain abundant amounts of information to get started.


A majority of what has to do with lack of motivation comes from poverty and view of technology as a “rich man’s resource”. One study done by the Department of Commerce showed that Internet usage constantly, as well as stereotypically, decreases with every increase of $15,000 in income (Commerce, 8). Poverty has always been a difficult issue to fix but motivation to use the Internet should not be. “Nearly 90 percent of households earning $150,000 or more annually have broadband internet access, compared to just 29 percent of those making less than $15,000 a year” (Greenwell, 1). Motivating those who cannot afford buying a computer rests on classroom involvement as well as the American government. As the world becomes increasingly Internet based, we find people living in poverty not motivated to use the Internet because they can feel uneasy spending a lot on something they know very little about. If the poor were motivated and shown how to use the Internet for their specific needs like creating a business or purchasing discounted goods, they would be much more likely to be motivated to seek out its benefits.


The attitude of the poor towards computers might not necessarily be their own faults, but a lack of familiarity with the Internet and all of the functions it has. The poor and minority groups, who have less contact and less familiarity with technology, are more likely to experience technophobia. “Technophobia is defined as anxiety about present or future interactions with computers or computer-related technology, negative global attitudes about computers, their operation, or their societal impact and/or specific negative cognitions…” (Jackson, 5). Rough estimates suggest that almost half of the American population have had some form of technophobia (Jackson, 5). Along the same lines of technophobia comes the ways that technology related to computers and the Internet lack the proper ways of being introduced to poverty, and racial/ethnic group membership (Jackson, 5). Simply watch ten minutes of television and one will see an ad for a new Macintosh computer being advertised with the aura of perfection and classiness. Commercials like these add to technophobia because people who cannot afford the best, new computer will never be motivated to try using a computer at all. People wont be enticed to use the Internet if they fear public humiliation from not being able navigate it. It’s hard for people who have been using computers everyday for years to understand that half of all Americans fear using the new technology but inclusion becomes an issue that needs to be solved by those who already use the World Wide Web.

Self-confidence with regard to technology use becomes an important factor likely to motivate people to use the Internet and derives from racial and poverty issues. Psychological literature explains that confidence in one’s ability in a “domain” will be directly related to positive behaviors shown that “domain” (Jackson, 7). For example, working in an atmosphere in which people have the openness to show under skilled people how to use new technology there will be a positive outcome for both parties. Technophobia seems abstract to those who have been born into the digital world, but when it affects so many people motivation needs to be given by these people to help the unskilled be comfortable with at least trying new technology.


Elderly people (65 and older) who have only recently been introduced to new technology such as the Internet become hesitant to use it because the Internet seems too complicated to even begin to deal with. The main issue presented becomes that once people leave the work place, using new technology becomes personally motivated (Commerce, 41). Simple ownership of computers becomes lacked due to a variety of factors such as the lack of belief in necessity, unfamiliarity, and latching onto what feels comfortable. “In comparing the computer ownership between the non-elderly and the elderly, a recent survey by Microsoft and the American Society on Aging found that approximately 50% of households in the United States have a personal computer, but of households of those aged 60 and above, this number drops to 25%”(Kiel, 3). Even of the 25% of elderly in the United States owning computers, Internet usage drops another 8% (Kiel, 3). This issue presents itself that elderly people do not adapt and experience technology like they could. Retired people in America generally have disposable income as well as a lot of free time, giving the Internet more value to experience new things while helping distribute money in the economy.

While numbers of users seem very low, the amount of resources the elderly can use has sky rocketed. Email, Facebook and Twitter could all be very useful for elderly people to stay in touch when transportation becomes a lot more difficult or impossible. Elderly people who generally live passive lives have been found to become more depressed and lonely. The Internet has a plentiful amount of resources that have been proven to reduce the amounts of loneliness and increase mental activity (KIEL, 4). Participating online will improve not only communication but also a lot of difficulties that come with aging. “Computer use by the elderly enhances their independence as they can now shop, pay bills, bank, learn, and engage in chat groups, such as the popular SeniorNet link”(Kiel, 3). SeniorNet educates elderly people about the Internet and encourages them to connect the knowledge and experiences they have undertaken. The site realizes there is a lot of wisdom and benefit in the age group making the site a great way to share and teach others. With no doubt there are thousands of sites for elderly benefit on the web, so why the lack of motivation?

The theory that elderly stay away from innovations and new concepts commonly gets placed upon their generation; when in reality they just see new ideas differently than open-minded youth (Kiel, 3). As long as the technology has been introduced in a comfortable environment with reinforcement, elders have been very receptive. Research has found that elders’ attitudes towards computers can be truly become modified. “In a 2-week trial whereby adults aged 57 – 85 received computer training, the results indicated that direct computer experience could change (positive) attitudes and promote learning” (Kiel, 3). People of older generations tend to stay away from new technology because they feel content with their lives, but with such positive proven outcomes of computer use, more motivation needs to be applied to America’s biggest generation. A side example away from Internet demonstrates this theory: “A 3-month study which introduced video games to nursing- home residents resulted in the residents showing marked significant improvement in self-esteem, mental stimulation, autonomy, enjoyment of life, and participation of activities of daily living” (J. M. Kiel 4). We take for granted how beneficial brain stimulation can be and elderly people especially can extremely benefit from simple yet entertaining games. Examples like these make it clear that direct motivation for elderly people could spark a whole new generation of Internet uses and experiences.


Anti Motivation

Trying to motivate non-users to try the Internet does not mean, however, that everyone needs to get on the Internet everyday. The other side of the motivational push point out that the Internet isolates people, causing them to have dysfunctional relationships, and the information on the Internet can be harmful (Jackson, 6). With the massive usage and popularity of the Internet, it becomes easy to forget that the Internet has many downsides. The extreme lack of personality blemishes a lot of what we do online and the Internet can easily consume a lot of our time or even become an addiction. It has been proven that technology can improve a child’s learning but face-to-face interaction gets disregarded (Monke, 2). Facts have shown that as more American children spend time with technology like computers and video games estimates suggest a 30% drop in overall face-to-face interaction. The Internet has been the fastest growing new technology to date, but moderation of usage has yet to be truly defined. “Concerns about computers controlling people’s lives, replacing relationships, contributing to the delinquency of minors, and exposing young children to inappropriate material and dangerous situations abound” (Monke, 3). Fear cannot be relieved with just simple motivation. Helping the people who have ideas of a harmful Internet were most likely not taught how to use the Internet by a skilled person whose concern of safety was a priority. With such a dramatic numbers of users, the Internet’s downsides become left out when motivation does occur which makes it even more of a necessity to include safety as a major underlining of motivation.

The Internet has sparked a revolution that, with out a doubt, has changed the world by creating a cyber domain full of possibility and opportunity. To put the internet into perspective with other popular technology, the Internet took five years to reach fifty million users; the television took thirteen years and the radio an astonishing thirty-eight to reach the same numbers. Blind motivation has caused the uneasy feelings about the web, but with safe, monitored motivation users can accurately decide if they will use it in the future. With such powerful changes that the Internet makes on the planet, motivation to at least understand the Internet becomes more and more social, economic and universally a necessity.


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