The Effect Of Socioeconomic Status And Gender On Digital Literacy

The term literate is being used to define the ability of a person to read and write. It is also being used to differentiate the educated from the uneducated person. With the advent of a new technology era, the concept of literacy has assumed new meanings. Digital literacy represents a person's ability to use a growing variety of technical, cognitive, and sociological skills in order to perform tasks and solve problems in digital environments. The digital divide has recently expanded beyond physical access to technology to include whether individuals have the necessary information and communication technology (ICT) skills, it is a multilayered and includes several related dimensions including computer access, usage, and skill as has been reported.

Over the last few decades, the environment has evolved into a digital environment. Being digitally literate is essential in being successful in this digital environment. Almost everything today requires digital knowledge or literacy, as digital technology plays an essential role in everyday lives. It is a skill that has been considered essential in the 21st-century. Relatedly, information and communication technologies are leading to a significant impact on individuals, and in the economy, it influences the improvement of labor productivity and living standards. Several researchers have reported that digital literacy may be associated with socioeconomic status (SES) and gender. Thus, this essay argues that socioeconomic has more impact on digital literacy as compared to gender. However, both signify impact and could be reduced by skill and knowledge improvement. This paper is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the socioeconomic effect on digital literacy, while the second part focuses on stereotype phenomena in digital literacy.

First will be discussing the correlation of digital literacy to socioeconomic factors (SES). Based on several studies, middle and low SES have low digital literacy skills and that digital divide does exist, for example, internet access, access to instructional computers, and type of software.

In the United States, families with low socioeconomic status are less likely to have access to a digital divide and internet connection at home and less likely to have the knowledge and necessary skills to use these resources. Although nearly 100% of U.S. public schools provide internet access for students, still access to personal computers with the internet is a factor for students in high poverty concentration. Fifty-four percent of schools with the highest poverty concentration had computers with internet access available to students before school, compared with 82% percent and 80 percent of schools with the two lowest categories of poverty concentration. Hohlfeld et al. (2008, p.3) outlined that the digital divide is a multilayered phenomenon because of the type of software being used wherein they have proven in their research that high-SES schools had better access to productivity software in their schools. In terms of usage, students within low-SES schools are more likely to use drill-and-practice software while in high-SES schools are more likely to use productivity software in educational purposes. Another study shows that there is a significant difference between high- and low-SES schools and the number of technology tools that were used to communicate with families and the community. For example, web sites were more common in high-SES schools than in low-SES schools. Moreover, digital literacy has a great negative impact with specific social groups such as older people, households without young people, and inhabitants of smaller settlements. It is essential to know that skill and training through courses in detail technology is more important than how to operate digital technology. The availability and easy access to digital technology in the high socioeconomic community did not completely eliminate the digital literacy

In addition, the stereotype in digital literacy has been discussed in several studies. It is the social development that differentiates between what is suitable for two genders and particular attributional patterns, which link the use of computers to genders and ethnic minorities. Men and women, regardless of their age, background, or competence with technology, know that the general public believes that men and boys are more interested in, and more competent at on the use of computers. There are some evidence shows that when gender is considered, the difference between people is equally invidious, women are not reaping the benefits of the technological revolution compared to men. As women take fewer technology classes in high school, they are underrepresented in the use and purchase of computers. Moreover, in college education, women are less likely to enroll in IT programs as they are less interacting with computers. In the early 1980s they surveyed children in school to find a significant difference in attitudes about computer technology were boys are more positive than girls. These behavioral differences continue to become dramatic throughout the years. It has been reported that as this problem went unnoticed for too long, boys were turning classrooms into video arcades by adopting software that resembles video games and spends hours on their favorite computer games even though Girls appreciated computers as educational tools but not as entertainment activity. According to Wilson et al. (2003) 'It is society's dilemma that the path to computer efficacy is more difficult for the poor, for ethnic minorities and women'. This shows that stereotype threat has negative attitude applying to a person's group, it can cause that person to perform poorly at a particular task. Despite all of the above, some recent research showed that gender, region, and nationality have weak Influence on digital literacy. Furthermore, girls appreciate computers as learning tools but not as games, which is why the result has been lowered interest, negative attitudes. Finally, the gender difference in ICT literacy was significant, positive, and favored girls, according to Siddiq and Scherer (2019), girls were found to outperform boys on scales linked to the use of learning-related software and tools (e.g., word processing, presentation software, social networking). This could suggest that the gender gap might not be as serious as it was claimed to be.

In conclusion, the digital prosperity of a society is believed to be achieved through learning and improvements of the individual digital literacy. Socioeconomic and gender have a negative influence on digital literacy that may be reduced by having better access and affordability to digital technology; although, it was found that socioeconomic background has a more significant impact. More considerable efforts are needed from the government and regional stakeholders in reducing the divide to have a positive effect on the country's economy through shaping the education for learning and training. 

09 March 2021
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