Analysis of the "Digital Divide" Phenomenon in the Context of the Epidemic
Abstract: The uneven spread of information and communication technologies represented by the Internet is a long-term objective existence. The outbreak of the new crown epidemic has made people rely on the Internet
The degree has been severely intensified, and the differences in Internet access, use, and application of different groups have been magnified and highlighted, forming a new "digital divide" phenomenon in the context of the epidemic
With the sudden attack of the new crown epidemic in early 2020, social isolation forced various businesses to migrate online, which in turn triggered a profound change in social life and work methods. Use mobile phone to pay to avoid cash contact, purchase daily necessities through online shopping, realize "stopping classes without stopping school" through online teaching, online meetings and remote offices to ensure that enterprises resume work and production, "health codes" on mobile phones
It has become a pass. The hospital needs to use APP to make an appointment to see a doctor. It will be difficult to move without the Internet and smartphones. On the one hand, the epidemic has pressed the pause button for social life, and on the other hand, it has pressed the accelerator button for the digitalization of society. "Survival" has become the norm in people's lives. The differences in the integration of different groups of people into the Internet have been magnified and highlighted. These differences are in
The performance is particularly conspicuous between generations, between urban and rural areas, and between different social classes. This difference is intertwined with deep-seated social issues such as the aging of Chinese society, the imbalance of regional development, and the differentiation of social classes, which have become the background of the epidemic. The new "digital divide" phenomenon
1 The origin of the digital divide
The term digital divide began to appear in the United States in the 1990s. When the wave of information and communication technology had a profound impact on social and economic development, the Internet began in the United States in the 1990s and has exploded globally. While the new technology represented by ICT brings general welfare to human society, it also brings new inequality and digital differentiation. The digital divide is usually defined as the difference between people who can and cannot use information and communication technology. Its essence is the imbalance in popularization and application of emerging digital information and communication technology represented by the Internet. This imbalance generally exists between different countries, regions, classes, industries and groups. The United States was the first country that began to pay attention to the digital divide. The U.S. Department of Commerce has issued four consecutive survey reports on the digital divide since 1995. It regards the "digital divide" as America's primary economic and human rights issue. With the proliferation of the Internet, The digital divide has attracted the attention of governments and societies around the world. It is generally believed that economic factors are the main cause of the digital divide.
The digital divide, in turn, will further widen the economic gap between different groups. The digital divide is considered to be a new type of imbalance accompanied by information and communication technology. The closing of the digital divide can reduce the gap between the rich and the poor and maintain social justice. In the early days, people believed that bridging the digital divide could be solved by improving ICT access, such as increasing the construction of communication infrastructure and increasing Internet access.
Increase the number of inputs and reduce the cost of tariffs, so that more people have the opportunity to use the Internet. With the upgrading of ICT technology, the Internet access gap has gradually been filled. The so-called "access gap" has been gradually reduced. However, people have gradually realized that access will bring different development opportunities to different groups of people. Due to differences in economy, education, environment, and innate endowments between different groups, there are differences in ability at the application level, forming the so-called "Application Gap". The "access gap" is usually called the first digital gap, and the "application gap"
The second digital divide
2 China's digital divide and research status
With the budding and development of the Internet in China, the problem of uneven development of the Internet has quickly attracted the attention of the society. The author used "digital divide as a key word" and conducted a literature search on the CNKⅠ database. A total of 2064 Chinese documents were retrieved. The publication span of the literature was from 2001 to 2020. The number of documents in 2001 was only 14 and reached a peak of 137 in 2004. The number of documents in subsequent years has declined slightly, but they have remained at about 100, indicating that the issue of "digital divide" has always received a high degree of attention. From the perspective of the content of the documents, the early documents are mainly based on the national conditions of developing countries in China. Starting from the background, we will study the digital divide between different countries and regions. In the mid-1990s, the number of Internet users in the United States had reached 56 million, accounting for 21% of the total population, and according to the number one issued by CNNC in 1997 According to the second statistical report on the development of the Internet in China, as of October 1997, the number of Internet users in China was only 620,000. The digital gap is about the U.S. is the most direct manifestation of the digital divide. Hu Angang in "The New Global Gap between Rich and Poor- In the article ``The Widening Digital Divide'', the digital divide between different countries and regions is summarized, and the principal component analysis method is adopted to analyze the main factors affecting Internet coverage, and extract four principal components to explain the impact of Internet penetration. Due to its vast territory, long-term historical and geographic reasons, the overall development level of different regions is uneven. In addition, the long-term urban-rural dual development structure has made the social and economic development of rural areas widespread.
Behind the city. According to CNNC data, 36% of Internet users were concentrated in Beijing in 1997, users in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou accounted for 0% of the total number of Internet users in the country, while remote western provinces such as Guizhou accounted for only 04%, and regional differences were also relatively large in this early literature. Involved in the digital divide between my country and between urban and rural areas, and carried out in-depth research from the perspective of measuring social governance and universal service of the digital divide. In short, the early research on the digital divide mainly revolved around the access gap. With the explosive growth of mobile Internet in my country, the number of mobile Internet users in my country surpassed computer Internet users for the first time in 2011. As of March 2020, the number of Internet users in my country has reached 904 million, and the number of mobile Internet users has reached 897 million. The popularity of mobile Internet has enabled people to access the Internet. Equipment and skills
Preparations and costs have been greatly saved, and the "access gap" has been greatly bridged. With the continuous deepening of the integration of the Internet and various industries, various Internet-based applications and services have emerged in an endless stream. The research on the digital divide has also transitioned from the early "access gap" to the "application gap", online education, smart medical care, and rural e-commerce. The application gap in other fields has become a new focus of research.
3 The digital divide under the epidemic
3.1 The digital divide among the elderly
my country has already entered an aging society. According to the international definition of "population aging", in a country or a region, elderly people over 60 years old account for 10% of the total population, or elderly people over 65 years old account for 10% of the total population. 7% of the population is an "aging society". According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, as of the end of 2018, my country's population of 60 years of age and above reached 249.49 million, accounting for 17.9% of the total population: of which, 80,000 people were 65 years of age and above, accounting for 30 of the total population. The impact of the family planning policy on the population structure for many years has not been fully released. It can be predicted that the proportion of the elderly population in my country will continue to increase in the future
During the epidemic, various difficulties related to the integration of the elderly into the Internet life were repeatedly reported. In the context of the entire Internet, the embarrassment and powerlessness of the elderly group made people feel embarrassed. How to persuade mom and dad to wear masks in the early days of the epidemic has become a hot topic for young netizens on Weibo: the spread of the epidemic has made people panic. Due to the lack of sufficient analysis and discrimination capabilities for information, the elderly often become the "easy to spread rumors of the epidemic." Sense the crowd". Online shopping, online appointment registration, and scanning of health codes are not easy tasks for the elderly. The digital divide faced by the elderly in my country includes both "access gap" and "application gap". The economic capacity is relatively weak, and the cost of smart phones or broadband will form a large economic burden. According to data from iResearch, my country's smartphone users reached 1 billion in 2019, accounting for 70% of the total population, but the proportion of smartphones held by the elderly is much lower than this number. According to Tencent's 2018 ``Elderly Users Mobile Internet Report'' 》, there are 80 million elderly Internet users in China, and there is a huge difference between the proportion of smartphones held by the elderly and the total population. In 2017
The proportion of smartphones held by 65-year-olds in China is about 42%. In addition, due to the generally low level of education of the elderly in our country, the lack of necessary knowledge and skills makes the elderly generally weak in motivation to access the Internet.
In terms of using ditch, the decline of the physical function of the elderly is an objective fact. The operation of smart phones requires flexible fingers and sensitive eyesight, which all form a country of barriers to use by the elderly. In addition, the popularization of information technology in my country is relatively late. Most elderly people have not received the empowerment of information technology in their education or professional experience, and lack of information literacy. Even if the elderly have smart phones, their use proficiency is not high and the frequency of use is low. , Limited use of functions In the epidemic, it is difficult for ordinary elderly people to use smartphones to complete the digital needs of daily life.
3.2The digital divide in online education
During the epidemic, China launched large-scale online teaching for more than 200 million college, primary, and middle school students. This is also the largest Internet education experiment in human history. In the past, online teaching was often used as a supplement to traditional education. This online education is unique. Carrying heavy burdens, realizing "stopping classes and not stopping school", to maximize the existence of the digital divide in the normal teaching order of the national education system, making the teaching effect of online teaching for all people a large imbalance, which in turn aroused concerns about education fairness As the cornerstone of social justice, education fairness is also the most effective way to realize social fairness. It is generally believed that online education can realize the sharing of educational resources to a certain extent, and help promote the balance of educational resources. However, when the "universal online class" was launched in a hurry, the social and family forces were not well prepared, which aroused concerns about education fairness. First of all, the “access gap” for online education still exists. During the epidemic, in the four countries (Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang), an average of 74% of students had computers at home for learning, which is still significantly lower than the world economy. Organizational average. There are still a considerable number of urban and rural poor in our country, who have a huge economic burden to purchase computers, smart phones and connect to broadband. A 14-year-old girl in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, chose to take drugs to commit suicide at home because she did not have a smartphone for online lessons. In some poor families, the family may share a mobile phone. Although China already has 1.4 billion smartphones in possession, smartphones are still difficult to overcome for some difficult groups. In addition, the effect of online education is more likely to be affected by students' independent learning ability and family's influence. Economic background, parents’ education level and other factors. Those students with weak self-discipline management ability, poor family financial status, and parents’ education level will be reduced to disadvantaged groups. A recent study shows that in the United States In some areas, online education has brought educational inequity, widening the gap between students, especially reducing the performance of boys and students with low GPA. Domestic scholars have also paid attention to the impact of the digital divide on the quality of online education, that is, the audience There are differences in the ability to acquire information and technology, which will eventually lead to differences in the effects of online education
3.3 Data gap between urban and rural areas
At present, China still has a significant urban-rural dual structure. Rural areas have both "access gaps" and "application gaps". Universal service is an important means to reduce the digital divide, especially the "access gap" in terms of hardware facilities. In the past two decades, my country’s telecommunications
The service has achieved remarkable results. The in-depth implementation of the "Village to Village" and "Telecom Universal Service Pilot Projects" has greatly improved the Internet access conditions of rural people. In 2019, the coverage of optical fiber and 4G in China's administrative villages has exceeded 98%. Network access conditions for schools in rural and remote areas continue to improve. Taking the western province of Guizhou as an example, in 2018, three batches of pilot projects for universal telecommunications services were completed in the country: in 2020, it will be realized on the basis of optical fiber connection in administrative villages and villages. After the “combination”, 100% of the 39,900 natural villages in the province have achieved 4G smoothness. However, in other remote villages, blind spots still exist. The report of the post-95 girl looking for signals on the top of the Silang Bazhen Snow Mountain is moving. In the future, it is necessary to continue to promote the construction of network infrastructure in rural areas. Due to the influence of economic, demographic, cultural and other factors, the Internet application demand and application level of the population in rural areas are generally low, and the "application gap" depends on
Obviously. my country is pursuing a rural revitalization strategy. The ``Digital Rural Development Strategy Outline'' issued in 2019 puts forward the goal of building a "digital village". In the future, rural areas will pay more attention to the development of rural digital economy and promote the in-depth integration of the Internet and characteristic agriculture, which will surely give birth to Farmers’ demand for the Internet and the improvement of their use skills are expected to bridge the "application gap" in rural areas.
As a complex social phenomenon, the digital divide arises from technology, but it far exceeds the technical problem itself. It involves many factors such as technology, economy, policy, and culture. It is a comprehensive gap composed of many aspects. The outbreak is an important node in the digitalization and network transformation of Chinese society. Bridging the digital divide is an inevitable choice for my country to embrace the digital economy and build an inclusive society.