Digital Means for Reducing Digital Inequality: Literature Review

Elena Maceviciute, Thomas D. Wilson
Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline  •  Volume 21  •  2018  •  pp. 269-287

The aim of this paper is to identify the possibilities for reducing the second and third levels of the digital divide (or inequality) through conscious application of digital technologies, especially through the promotion of digital means for information, enlightenment, and entertainment.

This article reviews studies carried out between 2000 and 2017, which investigate the social benefits of digital technology use for disadvantaged user groups and, especially, of their outcomes in terms of increasing digital skills and motivation to use information and communication technologies.

The literature review of the selected texts was carried out using thematic content analysis. The coding scheme was open but based on the theory of three levels of digital divide by van Dijk.

The results of the analysis show the difficulties related to the attempts of reducing the digital divide on the second and third level using only digital interventions, but also reveal the potential of these interventions.

The literature review confirms the connection of different levels of digital divide with other relational and structural inequalities. It provides insights into the strengths and weaknesses of digital interventions aimed at the reduction of digital inequalities. Their success depends on the consideration of the context and participants needs as well as on carefully planned strategies.

The paper summarizes and demonstrates the shortcomings and limitations of poorly designed interventions in reducing the digital divide but emphasizes the possibilities of raising the motivation and benefits for the participants of strategically planned and implemented projects.

While planning a digital intervention with the aim of reducing digital inequalities, it is necessary to assess carefully the context and the needs of participants. Educational interventions should be based on suitable didactic and learning strategies.

More research is needed into the factors that increase the effectiveness of digital interventions aimed at reducing the digital divide.

We will apply the findings of this literature review in an intervention in the context of Lithuanian towns of different sizes.

digital divide, digital technology, literature review, reducing digital inequali-ties
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