Race, Gender, and Information Technology Use: The New Digital Divide, Jackson et al.

This research paper examined race and gender and how these two factors affect the intensity and the nature of information technology use and whether it can predict academic performance. Today, “digital divide”, refers to gap in intensity and nature of internet usage, rather than access to it. The researchers of this study focused on 4 questions about the new digital divide among children: “(1) Are there race and gender differences in the intensity of children’s IT use, specifically, computer, Internet, videogame playing, and cell phone use? (2) Are there race and gender differences in the nature of children’s IT use? (3) Are there parent sociodemographic characteristics that predict the intensity and nature of children’s IT use? (4) Is there a relationship between the intensity and nature of children’s IT use and their academic performance?”.

For adults, the nature of internet usage for African Americans adults differs because they found that African Americans are more likely to use the internet to search for religious/spiritual information and less likely to use if for communication. In terms of gender and intensity, the divide in the US has almost disappeared, however, the nature in how different genders use it still remains. Females use the internet more for communication, while males use the internet more for information, entertainment and commerce.

Because race and gender and children IT uses were not as documented the researchers chose to study this. They discussed how some might assume because children now are born into online world, there might not be a divide at all, however, there has been evidence to suggest that for example low income children found less use in African American children that Caucasian children. And that boys were less likely to play games and girl were more likely to communicate. Understanding how children use IT is important because “IT use in childhood foreshadows IT use in adulthood and moreover, the development of Internet skills, such as navigational skills, is directly related to the amount of time online.”

To conduct their study children were recruited from 20 middle schools in Michigan and surveys were distributed. They survey examined sociodemographic information and the nat8re of IT use. Results: Caucasian children had been using the internet longer than African American children and males had been using computers longer than females. However, they also found that African American males were the least intense users of computers and the internet and African American females were the most intense users of computers and the internet. Males, regardless of race where the most intense video game players and females, regardless of race were the most intense cell phone users. In terms of being a predictor of academic performance, they found that the length of time using computers and the internet was a positive predictor of academic performance, whereas video game usage was a negative predictor.






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