Apple Has Solved the Digital Divide

Who knew companies like Apple fixed something in a couple years that the federal government has been attempting to fix for 20. And all it took was cheaper devices! Shocking!

My conservative friends can insert their own “leave it to the private sector” phrase here. My liberal friends can insert their own “but this doesn’t address X” story here, too.

Vaughn, who is African-American and lives on the Near Westside, is just as much of an Internet user as the suburbanites who own multiple computers and pay $50 a month for home broadband service.

What it means to be an Internet user, at least according to researchers, is changing rapidly as gadget makers continue to flood the market with Web-capable mobile devices such as smartphones, netbooks and tablets such as the Apple iPad.

And when those mobile devices are taken into account, national statistics show that African-Americans access the Internet almost as much as whites do — narrowing, at least from a technology standpoint, a digital divide that for years fell along racial lines.

Today, the division of who has ready access to broadband is more about socioeconomic status than race.

“Since the first survey in 2000, race and ethnicity have become increasingly less important predictors of Internet use,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which studies how the Web affects society. “In 2000, race alone was a predictor.”

African-Americans are now the nation’s most active users of the mobile Web, according to recent studies by Pew.

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