Digital divide is the gap that exists between those who can effectively use new information and communication tools (ACT), such as the Internet, and those who cannot. Elderly and low-income people have been identified as two major digitally disconnected groups (Rowena Culled 2002). Traditional family relations may be strained as Inter-generational communication is hampered and older members of the household find themselves increasingly alienated. The divide may also limit the low income group’s choices of career and ability to learn new skills.
In this way, much unman and hence economic potential is undermined (Asian development Bank, 2002). However, generic labels like “elderly’ and “low-income group” fail to capture much of the distinctiveness of these two groups in Singapore resulting from wide income gap, highly proliferated Job sectors and distinctive educational and cultural background between older and younger generations. Singapore economy boomed with an average annual growth rate of 6. 1% (the world bank 2012) over the past 20 years.
The older generation once lived in a Singapore where literacy rate was only 60% in 1960 s opposed to 96% today (Statistics Singapore 2013). Many worked as laborers in the shipping, food and low-end commodity retail industry for their entire life. Without even the most basic skills like reading and writing, much stood between them and the digital world. Their early lifestyles which are simpler and more personal also reduce the need for digital connectedness. For younger generations, the wide income gap indicated by the Gin-coefficient of 4. And the highly specialized and segmented Jobs deprive the lower-income group of both the capability and the need to be digitally connected. For the 236,300 people in Singapore earning less than S$ 1000/month in 2012 (MOM, 2012), staying digitally connected meant spending at least 10% of their monthly income on top of housing and food. In the work place, unlike white-collar workers for whom internet and IT skills are almost a necessity, they, often working as cleaners, security guards or sales- people, don’t need to acquire these skills for their employment.
The above-mentioned distinctive features inherent in Singapore adds further complexity and difficulty to attempts to bridge the digital divide between these two groups of people and the general public. Measures which are already in place such as the UNTIL, PC-Reuse, and Cyberspace (Kina Mining, Gary and Noel, 2004) can be improved by targeting the specific needs and difficulties of different groups. Given the low literacy rate of the older generation and their relative abundance of time, a more prolonged education program which starts with basic IT knowledge would be useful.
Whereas a more intensive program would suit better the working younger generation who already has a rough understanding of information system. To address the aversion to IT skills in the manual working class (Rowena Culled 2002), reticular attention should be paid to raise the “perceived ease of use” and more general level, prior consideration should be given to the younger working class as they are more able to turn such investment into economic growth when they apply their IT skills into their work. Their competency in CIT would also help in the sustainable education of the next generation.
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Revived 30/8/2013 from http:// www. Astor. Dustcover. 2307/249008? 4. Leone see Than and The Heart Truths 5. No minimum wage and strong unions in Singapore low wage workers see incomes drop (2013) Electronic reference. Revived 3118/2013 from http://thereabouts. Com/ 013/06/03/no-minimum-wage-and-strong-unions-in-Singapore-low-wage-workers- see-incomes-drop/ 6. M. G. Suburbia, Shamans N. Aimed , Ted Attaching and Mari-Len Rexes-Macadamias The Asian development bank Digital Divide: Determinants and policies with special Reference to Sat (2002) 7.
What are the barriers that prevent you and your friend from accessing the internet? I have a bad memory, when I read the next part, I will forget the front part. So I don’t think it is easy to learn how to use the computer. Although I can read a little bit, sometimes it is difficult and complex for me to follow the instructions of how to access the computer. Many other aunties can’t read English so they can’t type and use the computer. Also, I think a computer is too costly for me. More importantly, it is not a necessity for me and thus I don’t have any incentive the access it. . Do you know the other ways that can get you connect to the internet besides computer? Like smart phone? No. For me, phone is only used to receive calls and send messages. I have seen people using smart phone and ‘pads, but I don’t know how they work. I think they may also be very expensive. 5. Do you feel yourself alienated when other people are discussing issues from the internet or using internet when you are together? Sometimes I will Just listen to people’s discussion without Joining in because I don’t know what they are talking about.
When my sons and daughters come to see me, they also like to use hand phone most of time. I have gotten used to it, but to tell the truth they only come to my house few times, I wish we could spent the time together, as a family. 6. Do you know what benefits can be brought by internet? It may help me to spend my free time as I can watch dramas and listen to music. I can read the news from the internet, and get to know the important events appending in the world and around us. I can thus gain more knowledge.
I know young people upload my photos from the camera all the time and watch it on bigger screens. I also know that people can buy things from the internet but I don’t know how they pay or select. Even if I know how to do it, I don’t think I’m comfortable with buying things from the internet or letting other people see my photo. 7. Given a choice, will you be willing to use the internet? If I have the opportunity to surf the internet, I will be willing to use it. But if I don’t have, I also don’t mind. 8. If you have internet, for what purposes will you use it? Read some social news.
And watch some movies. 9. However, you can also read news from the traditional media, like newspaper? I heard that the news presented in the newspaper is far less sharper than those on enough. But besides that, I think there is nothing much more that I can gain from the Internet. 10. So do you think your life is adversely affected without internet? My life is very simple. So with or without internet won’t change my life too much. 11. Under what circumstances will you be willing to access the internet? When there s someone who is sitting beside me and teaches me patiently.
I can learn better if my grandson can teach me instead of someone else. Also, when I have the chance to access the computer. 12. How much are you willing to spend on internet or stay digital connected? As I am now retired, I may be willing to spend less than 5% of income on digital. If there is a training class, maybe less than 100 Singapore dollar is acceptable, because I don’t want to spend too much money on it. 13. If the government is willing to subsidies the training fees or computer fees, how much do you think is acceptable to you? Maybe half of the fees.