The Digital Divide in Online Content Production [Study]

Despite the ease of access to the internet and social networks, a recent University of California, Berkeley, study has found that most web content is produced by the world wide web’s more affluent users. According to Jen Schradie, the author of the study and a researcher at the university’s Berkeley Center for New Media, most web content is still produced by individuals with higher income and higher levels of education.

Information was gathered from 41,000 adults between 2000 and 2008, and the results, once analyzed, indicated that college graduates were more likely than high school graduates to produce content in a number of areas: They were 1.5 times more likely to create blogs, two times more likely to post digital media such as pictures and videos, and three times more likely to engage in online rating and commenting. According to the study, possessing a college degree is a better predictor of the likelihood to produce web content than other demographic information, including race and age.

There are concerns that this divide could indicate that the poor do not have access to many aspects of civic life that now occur digitally. This contradicts the idea that growing access to the internet has somehow increased diversity and tumbled social barriers. Social media, including Facebook and Twitter, has been cited as a means for providing an outlet for user-generated content and creating what has been called a “digital democracy.” However, more affluent users are more likely to have a means to access these social media sites with more frequency.

Some digital production activities, including blogging and website creation, are believed to have some influence on policy makers and issues affecting the public. Schradie notes that the isolation of lower socioeconomic classes from digital production could mean a lack of representation of those individuals in the consideration and creation of public policies.

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