Is Internet access a luxury? Or should it be a basic human right? In this article, we discuss the main issues why having access to an Internet connection is absolutely necessary for this day and age, and thus should by no means be considered a luxury.
What Happens When You Don’t Have Internet Access?
First, let’s discuss what happens when you don’t have Internet access. Basically, life gets more complicated. Having no internet access implies that everyday activities are going to be affected – from doing schoolwork to baking, from healthcare access to work-related tasks, and even when it comes to job hunting. Not having access to the Internet is – to put it mildly – extremely hindering.
There’s a wide belief that internet access qualifies as a luxury. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. Those who lack reliable access are left behind, adrift in an endless sea of ignorance and incomprehension.
Mark Lieberman states that “Internet access is a civil rights issue” and that “this technology challenge has been staring us in the face for decades.” It didn’t just start with COVID-19 but was rather exacerbated by it.
This is very important because according to a congressional Joint Economic Committee report, the following households lacked broadband connection access:
- 30 % of Black homes
- 26 % of Hispanic homes
- 35 % of Native American homes
- 18 % of white homes
The digital divide is clear for everyone to see. And just like Meghana Srivatsa states, it is wider than ever now due to COVID-19.
“Clearly, connectivity is an issue of infrastructure and affordability. These numbers tell us, over and over, that the digital divide isn’t an isolated problem. It’s not only a rural problem or a pandemic problem. It’s a hardware problem. An equity problem. An economic problem. And an even bigger education problem than ever before.
Yet it remains.”
Mark Lieberman, a reporter for Education Week
The digital divide isn’t an isolated problem. It’s affecting all sorts of households across America, which results in a lack of equality for the overall population. In fact, the pandemic has exacerbated this to the point of having “young students stand outside their elementary schools using their family’s only cellphone to download assignments.” This extra hindrance is caused only by the digital divide.
Why We Need Internet Access
According to Speed Matters, “high-speed Internet is essential for economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness.” And not only that, “high-tech innovation, job growth, telemedicine, distance learning, rural development, public safety, e-government and solutions to our environmental problems require truly high-speed, universal networks.”
Thus, Internet access should be a basic human right. It opens the world to us, allowing us to reach corners of education, entertainment, and even healthcare that wouldn’t be available to us any other way. Think about it – a high-speed connection is what allows us to make the most out of Internet applications “such as medical monitoring that allows a doctor to screen a patient at home or distance learning that permits a student to participate in classroom discussion.” Reliable Internet access is even necessary to perform our jobs – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey by Precision Data claims that more than 70% of Americans “could not perform their jobs without a home internet connection.” Where does that leave the other 30%? It leaves them hunting down WiFi hotspots at cafés and restaurants to perform menial, everyday tasks such as sending an email, reviewing their homework, or even watching a YouTube video. It’s unfair, uncivilized, and if we dare say so, a human rights abuse.
“All it takes is a nationwide crisis to underline the most glaring equity issues our society faces. The one that has captured my attention during COVID-19 is the chronic lack of home internet access for people of color, low-income households, and rural residents.”
Mark Lieberman, a reporter for Education Week
Think about the pandemic. We’re encouraged to stay home. We can’t go outside, which means that restaurants, coffee shops, and public WiFi hotspots are shut down. This outcome is that people who don’t have a stable Internet connection can’t even perform activities that allow us to stay safely at home (such as “ordering food online, grocery shopping through e-commerce, working from home, video conferencing”). Life is definitely easier for those who have broadband access, don’t you think?
Internet access is most definitely a social issue, not a luxury. But, how can we address this divide as companies and eCommerce businesses? By considering a multicultural approach that focuses on inclusivity, diversity, and above all, truth. If you’re planning to launch a new product, service, or offer, then you need to think hard about all of your potential customers – including those who don’t have Internet access. To understand and target those users, we offer market research services that can help you better understand the ideals, attitudes, and needs of groups that are often ignored by mainstream market research companies. For more information, you can check out our services or request a quote here.