Howell states that 86% of Australian households have internet access, but this can vary geographically, with as little as 49% of Tasmanian and South Australian homes having internet access (2014). Whilst government funded programs such as Networking the Nation have aimed to improve the access and usage of telecommunications infrastructure, and improve services for regional Australians (Trinidad, 2006), the digital divide remains, with regional children spending less time chatting or emailing their friends, and half the amount of time pursuing academic activities online, than their urban peers (Smith, Skrbis & Western, 2012).
Teachers are increasingly using digital technology in the classroom and should not have an assumption that all children have access to digital technology, or posess the same competency levels (Howell, 2014; Smith et al, 2012). Regionally located children may have less access to teachers providing education of the use digital technology, and within those geographic distances there is further disparity when you consider the household socio-economic status, creating potential issues of social justice (Atkinson, Black and Curtis, 2008).
Educators need to ensure that children understand the use of technology, and encourage participation and engagement by using appealing tools such as apps, collaborative websites and social media, thus ensuring we meet the expectations of the child, and that of parents, future educational institutions and employers (Howell, 2014;Freedman, 2011). Encouraging use of technology in the classroom, school library or community centres can help prevent the divide widening (Atkinson et al, 2008). Educators need to be well trained and aware of developments in technology, to continue to engage children and work with them in partnership to build their confidence and skills in digital technology (Howell, 2014 & The World Bank, n.d.).
Atkinson ,J., Black, R., Curtis, A. (2008) Exploring the Digital Divide in an Australian Regional City: a case study of Albury. Australian Geographer Vol. 39, Iss. 4.
Howell, J. (2014) Teaching with ICT: Digital Pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand.
Freedman, T. (2011) 13 Reasons to use Educational Technology in Lessons.
Retrieved from: http://www.ictineducation.org/home-page/2011/3/3/13-reasons-to-use-educational-technology-in-lessons.html
Morton Grove Public Library (n.d.) Computer Use [Image]. Retrieved from:http://www.mgpl.org/kids/computers/
Smith, J.,Skrbis, Z., Western, M. (2013) Beneath the Digital Native myth Journal of Sociology Vol.49(1), pp.97-118
Trinidad, S. (2006) Closing the digital divide: education telecommunications systems and possibilities in Western Australia. Anderson, Neil (ed), ACEC: Australian Computers in Education Conference.
The World Bank, (n.d.) The digital divide. Retrieved from http://go.worldbank.org/BM7XOMLU50