Bridging the Digital Divide: One Smartphone at a Time

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


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.


Smartphones Low literacy Digital divide Information behavior Ethnography 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

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

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