Don’t We All Waste Time Online – Or Just Poor People?

Before the great digital divide, there was the digital divide. Not everyone could afford Internet and cable but now families have decided to make this a necessity for their households- no matter income. First there seemed to be a crisis for those who couldn’t afford these amenities, but alas now it seems like there is a still a disparity  with people now utilizing what they couldn’t once pay for?

In an article published by the New York Times, “Wasting Time Is New Divide in Digital Era” author Matt Richtel examines various factors such as the effects of household income and education of parents, findings from policy makers and researchers and concerns of students.

The article notes that: As access to devices has spread, children in poorer families are spending considerably more time than children from more well-off families using their television and gadgets to watch shows and videos, play games and connect on social networking sites, studies show.

A study published in 2010 by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children and teenagers whose parents do not have a college degree spent 90 minutes more per day exposed to media than children from higher socioeconomic families. In 1999, the difference was just 16 minutes.

“Despite the educational potential of computers, the reality is that their use for education or meaningful content creation is minuscule compared to their use for pure entertainment,” said Vicky Rideout, author of the decade-long Kaiser study. “Instead of closing the achievement gap, they’re widening the time-wasting gap.”

The study found that children of parents who do not have a college degree spend 11.5 hours each day exposed to media from a variety of sources, including television, computer and other gadgets. That is an increase of 4 hours and 40 minutes per day since 1999.

Hopefully these children will find something productive to do with their time online. I’m not sure if I can generalize here but it seems like there are many of us who just waste time online whether wealthy, poor, educated, uneducated or sober. Studies and propaganda like this only dilute the more important issues of education and teaching EVERYONE how to use technology to prosper.

What do you think these studies offer? Do you really think there is still a such thing as a digital divide? Share your thoughts.