Advertisement

Bridging the Digital Divide: One Smartphone at a Time

  • Kathryn Summers
  • Noel Alton
  • Anna Haraseyko
  • Rachel Sherard
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10919)

Abstract

Growing use of smartphones among low-literacy/low-income urban populations is increasing access to the internet for this group, a group that has been historically disadvantaged in terms of internet access. This digital divide has had enormous historical importance and many negative practical effects on health, income, civic participation, and education [1, 2, 3, 4]. While providing internet access through libraries made the internet available to many people, library-based access to the internet did not guarantee its use (i.e., penetration). Now that the rise of smart phones [5] is finally narrowing the access gap, we need to understand how adults with low literacy/low income are using smart phones. What are their assumptions about the internet? What do they value? What barriers to successful use persist?

This is a small-scale exploratory and descriptive study of smartphone use by low literacy/low income urban residents who are smartphone dependent or smartphone dominant. Understanding the information behaviors, attitudes, and goals of this demographic, as well as the barriers and opportunities provided by smartphone-based internet access, is an essential step in making online information and services more broadly available.

Keywords

Smartphones Low literacy Digital divide Information behavior Ethnography 

References

  1. 1.
    Lorence, D.P., Park, H., Fox, S.: Racial disparities in health information access: resilience of the digital divide. J. Med. Syst. 4, 241–249 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fallis, D.: Social epistemology and the digital divide. In: Weckert, J., Al-Saggaf, Y. (eds.) Proceedings Selected Papers from the Computers and Philosophy Conference (CAP2003), Canberra, Australia. CRPIT, vol. 37, pp. 79–84. ACS (2004)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jennings, M.K., Zeitner, V.: Internet use and civic engagement: a longitudinal analysis. Public Opin. Q. 3, 311–334 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Wong, Y.C., Ho, K.M., Chen, H., Gu, D., Zeng, Q.: Digital divide challenges in low-income families: the case of Shanghai. J. Technol. Hum. Serv. 33, 53–71 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Pew Research Center: The smartphone difference 18 February 2018. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015
  6. 6.
    Pew Research Center: Mobile fact sheet, 18 February 2018. http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/
  7. 7.
    Pew Research Center: Smartphones help blacks, Hispanics bridge some—but not all—digital gaps with whites, 19 February 2018. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/31/smartphones-help-blacks-hispanics-bridge-some-but-not-all-digital-gaps-with-whites/
  8. 8.
    Pew Research Center: Digital divide persists even as lower-income Americans make gains in tech adoption, 19 February 2018. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/22/digital-divide-persists-even-as-lower-income-americans-make-gains-in-tech-adoption/
  9. 9.
    Pew Research Center: Internet/broadband fact sheet. 19 February 2018. http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/
  10. 10.
    Harris, C., Straker, L., Pollock, C.: A socioeconomic related ‘digital divide’ exists in how, not if, young people use computers. PLoS ONE 12(3), 1–13 (2017)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gonzales, A.: Technology maintenance: a new frame for studying poverty and marginalization. In: Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 289–294 (2017)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Delello, J.A., McWhorter, R.R.: Reducing the digital divide: connecting older adults to iPad technology. J. Appl. Gerontol. 1, 3–28 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hillbert, M.: The bad news is that the digital access divide is here to stay: domestically installed bandwidths among 172 countries for 1986–2014. Telecommun. Policy 40, 567–581 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Mimbi, L., Bankole, F.O., Kyobe, M.: Mobile phones and digital divide in East African countries. In: Proceedings of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists Conference on Knowledge, Innovation and Leadership in a Diverse, Multidisciplinary Environment, pp. 318–321 (2011)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gonzales, A.: Health benefits and barriers to cell phone use in low-income US neighborhoods: indications of technology maintenance. Mob. Media Commun. 2, 233–248 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kirsch, I.S.: Adult literacy in America: a first look at the results of the National Adult Literacy Survey. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402 (1993)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kutner, M., Greenberg, E., Jin, Y., Boyle, B., Hsu, Y., Dunleavy, E.: Literacy in everyday life: results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. NCES 2007-490. National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC (2007)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    West, D.M.: State and federal e-government in the United States, 2005. Taubman Center for Public Policy, Brown University (2005). http://insidepolitics.org/egovt05us.pdf
  19. 19.
    Summers, K., Wu, J., Abela, C., Souza, R., Langford, J.: Designing web-based forms for users with lower literacy skills. In: Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, pp. 1–12 (2007).  https://doi.org/10.1002/meet.14504301174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kodagoda, N., Wong, W., Kahan, N.: Behaviour characteristics: low and high literacy users information seeking on social service websites. In: CHINZ 2009, pp. 13–16 (2009)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Chaurdy, B.M., Connelly, K.H., Siek, K.A., Welch, J.L.: Mobile interface design for low-literacy populations. In: IHI1 2012, pp. 91–100 (2012)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Alton, N.T., Rinn, C., Summers, K., Straub, K.: Using eye-tracking and form completion data to optimize form instruction. In: Proceedings From the International Professional Communication Conference, pp. 1–8 (2014)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Doke, P., Joshi, A.: Mobile phone usage by low literate users. In: IndiaHCI 2015, pp. 1–9 (2015)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Taoufik, I., Kabaili, H., Kettani, D.: Designing an e-government portal accessible to illiterate citizens. In: ICEGOV 2007, pp. 327–335 (2007)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lalji, Z., Good, J.: Designing new technologies for illiterate populations: a study in mobile phone interface design. Interact. Comput. 20, 574–586 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Medhi, I., Patnaik, S., Brunskill, E., Gautama, S.N.N., Thies, W., Toyama, K.: Designing mobile interfaces for novice and low-literacy users. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 1 (2011)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Heckathorn, D.D.: Snowballs versus respondent-driven sampling. Soc. Meth. 41, 355–366 (2011).  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9531.2011.01244.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Davis, T.C., Crouch, M.A., Long, S.W., Jackson, R.H., Bates, P., George, R.B., Bairnsfather, L.E.: Rapid assessment of literacy levels of adult primary care patients. Fam. Med. 23, 433–435 (1991)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Alqudah, M., Johnson, M., Cowin, L., George, A.: Measuring health literacy in emergency departments. J. Nurs. Educ. Prac. 4, 1–10 (2014)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Davis, T.C., Kennen, E.M., Gazmararian, J.A., Williams, M.V.: Literacy testing in health care research. In: Schwartzberg, J.G., VanGeest, J.B., Wang, C.C. (eds.) Understanding Health Literacy: Implications for Medicine and Public Health, pp. 157–179. American Medical Association, Chicago (2005)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Parker, R.M., Baker, D.W., Williams, M.V., Nurss, J.R.: The test of functional health literacy in adults: a new instrument for measuring patients’ literacy skills. J. Gen. Intern. Med. 10, 537–541 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Charmaz, K.: Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. Sage, London (2006)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Glaser, B.G., Strauss, A.L.: The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Design. Transaction, Rutgers (1967)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Strauss, A.L., Corbin, J.: Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand Oaks (1998)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Saldana, J.: The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers, 3rd edn. Sage, London (2015)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Rinn, C., Summers, K., Rhodes, E., Virothaisakun, J., Chisnell, D.: Password creation strategies across high- and low-literacy web users. In: Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, pp. 1–9 (2015).  https://doi.org/10.1002/pra2.2015.145052010052CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn Summers
    • 1
  • Noel Alton
    • 2
  • Anna Haraseyko
    • 1
  • Rachel Sherard
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BaltimoreBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Western Governors UniversitySalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations