Closing the Digital Divide: Combatting the technology gap in the black community

What is the digital divide as it relates to the black community? Many people define the digital divide as the gap between those who have access to technology and those who do not. According to the Pew Research Center, 80% of White adults report owning a desktop or laptop computer, compared with 69% of Black adults. 

The Challenge of Undervalued Skills and Limited Digital Access to Seniors

In addition to reduced access to technology, the black community also faces the challenge of not having the will to learn how to use it. This is because they fail to see the value of having a digital education. This divide continues to grow by the day as elders defer to younger generations to navigate digital spaces for them. 

3 Solutions to Encourage Digital Literacy in the Black Community

Our solutions to closing the digital divide in the black community are to incentivize learning, make teaching accessible, and personalize the learning experience for elders. Here are 3 solutions that can bring digital learning to our black senior community:

1Incentivize learning: Our vision is to create digital literacy courses that will teach elders to perform simple tasks such as writing emails, video chatting, and setting reminders via smartphone. Upon completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate and an ad in the newspaper. This will allow them bragging rights. Other incentives may include gift cards, money, new technology, and more. Mini-competitions that will involve a point system will increase engagement within the course. We believe that incentivizing the learning experience will motivate many elders to become more digitally literate. 

2Expand accessibility: By providing multiple education opportunities virtually and live we can create more digital literacy among the older black community. We can reduce hiring costs by encouraging younger family members to volunteer their time to teach their older loved ones. This provides a dual benefit; reducing costs of hiring teachers and strengthening family ties. 

3Personalized learning: Tailoring the learning experience for the elder generation is essential for avoiding discouragement and loss of interest. By providing the community with digital education, we will give them the opportunity to open up and expand their world. 

We can encourage seniors to embrace technology by teaching them useful and practical skills that will bring them joy and satisfaction. For example by showing a grandmother how to use video chat, she can read bedtime stories to her grandchildren. 

The Benefits of Digital Education for Seniors

Depression and isolation is a real problem for many seniors. By providing the community with digital education, we will give them the opportunity to be more self-sufficient and gain confidence in their newfound abilities.

Providing a simple and tailored curriculum can give seniors the advantage of learning at their own pace. Easy hands-on exercises can include learning how to send emails, upload photos or set reminders. 

Seniors can enjoy a greater quality of life by learning how to do internet searches, set up notifications and do online shopping.

By teaching our seniors how to leverage technology to their best advantage we empower our elders to be more productive and active in their community. While a lot of work is still needed to solve this dilemma, taking steps to encourage the teaching and use of technology can streamline tasks and create opportunities that were once thought impossible. 

Our goal in bringing digital learning to the elder community is to create engagement, empower the seniors to be more self-sufficient and connect them with a wider network of support. By having greater access to a larger support system, that will improve the mental health of our seniors.

Written By: ALBH Computer Science Capstone Cohort – Spring ’22 : Deonna Owens, Patience Ogunbase, Charles Lett Jr., Talton Frison, and Trey Harbert