Digital Differences: How Experience Changes the Way You Interact with the Web

The internet has undoubtedly opened up the world for us, albeit in many different ways. It has allowed us to access more information than ever before and paved the way for tools that enhance almost every aspect of our lives. Think of the forums that forged communities of like-minded people, e-commerce platforms that created a whole new genre of business.

Unfortunately, harnessing the full potential of the internet is not always possible for some of us. A combination of culture, motivations and demographic background can affect our attitudes toward the internet and our interaction with it (Futurelearn, 2017). An undergraduate like myself is able to use the internet for research, while an elderly person might not see the value in this.

My Digital Difference

Below, I compare my key interactions with the internet with statistics from Ofcom and explain how my experience shaped these interactions.

Topic 1_Infographic-01

Infographic created by Shanelle Chong

My environment has made me rely on the internet for many things. In Singapore, everything and everyone utilises the internet to a certain extent. It is so seamlessly integrated into my life that being a non-user is almost incomprehensible.

Bridging the Gap

It’s interesting to note that the most common reason for not using the internet is people finding it unnecessary (Adults’ media use and attitudes, 2017). In order to bridge the gap, communicating the value of the internet should come before teaching technical skills. Yet getting non-users to participate is not going to standardise interaction on the internet. Beyond access and attitudes, the internet is constantly attempting to personalise itself to the user’s behaviour. Think of Facebook’s newsfeed and Google’s search results.

The onus then falls on us, the user, to be motivated by the possibilities of the internet in order to break the bubble and fully utilise its potential.

Word count: 297

References

Adults’ media use and attitudes. (2017). [online] Ofcom. Available at: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/media-literacy-research/adults/adults-media-use-and-attitudes [Accessed 10 Nov. 2017].

Futurelearn (2017). Digital differences – inequalities and online practices.

9 thoughts on “Digital Differences: How Experience Changes the Way You Interact with the Web

  1. Nice thoughts shanelle, I totally agree with your point that, Internet has been a very helpful tool for us in accessing more information, self-learning and development. Especially as a student, I use the internet to research and clarify my academic doubts as not everything can be found books or familiar resources. This made me also realize it is the digital platforms which help us connect with different people, who make us look at certain things in a much different way. On the other hand, an individuals’ interests, motivates, attitudes plays a big part on whether people would like to use it regularly. Even though many people in Singapore are utilizing internet regularly, there is still a group who has yet to have much interest in the web. Do you think that efforts of social media and search platforms are adequate to convince people to utilize internet more often? Please feel free to check my blog too:)

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    1. Hey Sahana, thanks for the comment! To answer your question, I do think search engines are great tools to use to convince someone to get on the internet. On the other hand, social media has its pros and cons. I think a good approach is to evaluate the needs of a non-user first. For example, a sick person may appreciate health applications to connect with doctors as opposed to social media.

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  2. You have a really well-designed info-graphic and some well-constructed points Shanelle. I agree with you whole-heartedly on the importance of attitudes in shaping internet usage and as a factor of digital differences. Do you think that there could be other sources of digital differences apart from individual motivation or attitudees? Also, would there be a correlation between socio-economic factors and the attitudes of people who suffer under the digital divide. An example would be how the elderly (age 75 & over) frequently reflect lower adoption levels of the internet and smart devices. (Ofcom, 2017)

    I hope to hear from you soon and please feel free to check out my blog over at https://kirbykgs.wordpress.com. Cheers!

    https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/media-literacy-research/adults/adults-media-use-and-attitudes

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