Just Sociology

Understanding the Digital Divide: Disparities in New Media Usage Based on Age Class and Gender

New media has become a ubiquitous part of modern society, shaping how people access and consume information, as well as how they communicate and interact with others. The rise of the internet and social media have transformed nearly every aspect of daily life, from the way people shop, work and entertain themselves to the way they form relationships and participate in political discourse.

As a result, understanding new media usage patterns and trends has become essential for researchers, businesses and policymakers. This article will explore two main topics related to new media usage: statistics on internet access and usage, and the generation divide in new media usage.

New Media Usage Statistics

Internet Access and Usage

One of the most dramatic changes in society during recent decades has been the widespread adoption of the internet. In the UK, 94% of households have internet access, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The majority of people access the internet using their mobile phones, with 78% of adults and 9

5% of 16-24 year-olds using a smartphone according to OFCOM. Younger generations spend more time online than older generations, with 16-24 year-olds spending an average of 3 hours per day on their smartphones, compared to just 34 minutes per day for those aged 74 or over.

Social media has also become an integral part of the online experience, with 66% of adults in the UK using social media according to the ONS. Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, with 71% of UK internet users having a Facebook account.

However, younger generations are increasingly turning to newer platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, which respectively, have 43% and 22% usage rates among 18-24 year-olds, compared to 21% and

5% among all adults. Differences in New Media Usage by Age, Social Class, and Gender

New media usage is not uniform across different segments of society.

There are notable differences in usage patterns based on factors such as age, social class, and gender. The generation divide in new media usage is particularly pronounced, with younger generations being more technologically literate and using new media for a wider range of purposes than their older counterparts.

This has led to concerns about the impact of technology on social cohesion and intergenerational communication. Other social divisions also play a role in new media usage patterns.

There is a social class divide in internet access and usage, with working-class people being less likely to have internet access than middle and upper-class people. This has been attributed to factors such as a lack of digital skills, inability to afford technology, and reluctance to engage with online activities.

Similarly, there is a gender digital divide, with women being less likely to engage in certain online activities, such as gaming or contributing to online discussion forums.

Generation Divide in New Media Usage

Contrasting Youngest and Oldest Age Groups

The generation divide in new media usage has been a subject of much research and discussion in recent years. OFCOM found that 16-24 year-olds in the UK spend an average of 7 hours per day online, compared to 1 hour for those aged

5

5-64 and just 34 minutes for those aged 7

5 or over.

The youngest age group is more likely to use new media for entertainment and socializing, with 96% using social media and 71% using video-sharing websites like YouTube. Older generations, on the other hand, use the internet more for utilitarian reasons such as email, online shopping, and accessing news.

While they may not use new media platforms as frequently as younger generations, those over the age of 6

5 have shown increasing levels of engagement with digital technologies over recent years. According to the ONS,

54% of adults aged 6

5-74 use the internet, while among those aged 7

5+, usage has increased from 20% in 2011 to 44% in 2019.

Differences in New Media Usage by Wider Variety of Age Groups

While the generation divide in new media usage is often discussed in terms of younger and older age groups, there are significant differences in usage patterns within these groups as well. OFCOM found that those aged 4

5-

54 and

5

5-64, who fall in between the youngest and oldest groups, spend an average of 2.

5 hours and 1. 5 hours per day on their smartphones, respectively.

However, their usage patterns are different from younger generations, with a drop-off in social media usage rates and an increase in email usage. Research suggests that these older age groups are more likely to use digital technologies for banking and personal finance, accessing health information, and communicating with friends and family.

While these activities may not require the same degree of technological literacy as social media, they are still important for older adults. Digital technologies have been shown to improve feelings of social connectedness and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, particularly for those who may be less mobile or live alone.

Conclusion

Understanding new media usage patterns is crucial for researchers, businesses, and policymakers. As demonstrated in this article, there are notable differences in usage patterns based on factors such as age, social class, and gender.

The generation divide in new media usage is particularly pronounced, with younger generations being more technologically literate and using new media for a wider range of purposes than older generations. Additionally, different age groups use new media in different ways, highlighting the importance of taking a nuanced approach to understanding these trends.

Ultimately, new media will continue to shape daily life in ways that are both profound and challenging, and it is essential for individuals and organizations to stay abreast of these developments in order to thrive in the digital age.New media technologies have become an integral part of modern society, shaping how people access and consume information, as well as how they communicate and interact with others. However, the benefits of these technologies are not equally distributed throughout society.

Various socio-economic and demographic divides influence the use of new media, creating different patterns and trends. In this article, we will explore the social class digital divide and the gender digital divide, highlighting differences in new media usage patterns based on socioeconomic status and gender.

Social Class Digital Divide in New Media Usage

Comparison of Highest and Lowest Socioeconomic Groups

The so-called social class digital divide refers to the variations in new media usage patterns based on socio-economic status. In the UK, socio-economic status is typically determined by the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC), which classifies the population into eight groups from AB (higher managerial, administrative, professional occupations) to DE (semi-skilled and unskilled manual occupations, households with no workers).

Studies have shown that there are noteworthy differences between higher and lower socio-economic groups in terms of their engagement with new media technologies. For example, higher socio-economic groups (AB) are more likely to engage with new media technologies like mobile phones, on-demand content, social media profiles and identifying advertising, than those in the lower socio-economic groups (DE).

According to studies, around 97% of AB households have internet access, compared to only 70% of DE households. Conversely, the levels of engagement with traditional media such as broadcast television, radio, and newspapers are considerably higher in the lower socio-economic classes.

This can be attributed to a variety of factors like affordability of technology, lack of internet access or digital skills, and reluctance to engage with online activities.

Non-Users of Internet in DE Households

Despite the increasing importance of new media technologies for modern life, there are still many individuals and households that do not use the internet, particularly in lower socio-economic categories. A study conducted by Ofcom in 2018 found that among those without internet access at home, the largest proportion of non-users come from the DE socio-economic group (2

5% compared to just 3% from AB).

In terms of reasons for not using the internet, those in the DE socio-economic group cited disinterest or lack of skills, cost, and lack of need among their reasons. The lack of internet access can have significant implications for individuals and households, limiting their access to vital information and services, as well as opportunities for social and economic engagement.

This highlights the need for initiatives that target the digital divide such as digital skills training programmes and affordable broadband access in particular for the DE socio-economic group.

Gender Digital Divide in New Media Usage

Women More Likely to Have Social Media Profiles

The gender digital divide refers to the differences in new media usage patterns between men and women. In general, women are more likely to have social media profiles than men.

According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, as of 2020, women were more likely than men to use Instagram (43% vs. 31%), Facebook (74% vs.

62%) and Pinterest (41% vs. 16%).

However, men are typically more likely to use older online platforms like Reddit and LinkedIn, and typically generate more YouTube views than women. These differences in online platform preference can be attributed to a variety of factors like marketing targeted towards different genders, differing interests or hobbies, online harassment, and social norms.

Research suggests that women are more likely to use social media for social connection, personal branding, and sharing articles or opinions. In contrast, men are more likely to use social media for professional networking, news consumption, and sharing humorous content.

Differences in News Interest and Online Gaming

Another difference in new media usage between men and women is their interest in news and online gaming. Research suggests that men are more likely to be interested in news and current events, and are more likely to get their news from a combination of news websites, social media, and TV.

Women, on the other hand, appear to be less interested in current events and are more likely to get their news from social media, rather than traditional news sources. When it comes to online gaming, men are also more likely to engage in this activity than women.

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 201

5, 1

5% of American men said they play online games “almost every day” or “most days,” compared to just 6% of women. This difference can be attributed to a variety of factors such as gender stereotypes, social pressures, levels of interest in gaming, and accessibility.

Conclusion

In conclusion, new media usage is influenced by a range of socio-economic and demographic factors, including social class and gender. The social class digital divide refers to the differences in new media usage patterns between higher and lower socio-economic groups, while the gender digital divide relates to the differences in new media usage patterns between men and women.

These divides influence not only the frequency and type of new media usage but also the implications and consequences. The findings highlight the need for more targeted policies, initiatives, and interventions aimed at bridging these divides and promoting more equitable engagement with new media.The advent of new media technologies has transformed the world in many ways, shaping the way people communicate, access information, and form relationships.

However, the benefits of these technologies are not equally distributed across society. Differences in new media usage patterns exist based on various socio-economic and demographic factors, creating distinct disparities.

In this article, we will explore two main topics related to new media usage in the UK, including the significant digital divide, and how this topic is relevant to A-level Sociology.

Significant Digital Divide in UK New Media Usage

Generation Divide and Class DE Internet Access

The UK displays a significant digital divide with regards to new media usage. As identified in previous sections, younger generations tend to use new media technologies more frequently than older generations.

Similarly, individuals in higher socio-economic groups engage with technology more than individuals in lower socio-economic groups. An OFCOM report published in 2020 found that although internet usage in the UK continues to increase, those in the DE socio-economic group remain less likely to have access to the internet than higher socio-economic groups.

This digital divide can create further disparities between different socio-economic groups, as better access to new media technologies often translates to greater access to critical information and new opportunities.

Gender Differences in Social Media and News Interest

Gender differences are another significant factor in the digital divide in new media usage. Women tend to use social media more frequently than men, with platforms such as Instagram and Facebook being more popular with female users.

Additionally, women tend to use social media for social connection and sharing personal updates more frequently than men. When it comes to news consumption, studies suggest that men are more interested in current events than women, with men more likely to use news websites, social media, and TV as sources of information.

The digital gender gap can create disparities between men and women regarding access to news, social engagement, and its impact on aspects such as employment opportunities and social progression.

Signposting and Relevance to A-level Sociology

Relevance to Media Topic in A-level Sociology

The topic of digital divides is relevant to the media topic area within A-level sociology. Students studying this topic area will need to understand the impact of new media technologies on society, how they affect social attitudes, and how they have impacted communication and representation.

The issue of digital divides highlights the social inequalities that exist in society, particularly with regards to access to social media and the opportunities it provides. The impact of digital divides on media ownership and the promotion of certain viewpoints can be studied in-depth.

Sources

To gain insight into digital divides, students studying sociology must consult various sources to gain an understanding of existing divides and previous efforts to tackle these divides. Research conducted by Ofcom, the Office for National Statistics, and Pew Research Centre highlights the distinctions between the usage of new media technologies based on socio-economic status, age, and gender.

Additionally, reports from the UK government, such as the Digital Strategy, provide details on initiatives put in place to improve digital literacy, promote internet access for all, and reduce the digital divide. Studying these alongside class materials is an essential way to gain insights into how the digital divide has emerged and the ongoing efforts to tackle the challenges it presents.

Conclusion

The issue of digital divides in the UK highlights the inequality in how new media technologies are used across different socio-economic and demographic groups. Understanding these digital divides is critical in developing policies, initiatives, and interventions that tackle social inequality, bridge digital divides, and maximize the potential of new media technologies.

In the field of sociology, the relevance of the topic lies in its relevance to the media topic area and the importance of identifying sources that shed light on the disparities that exist in society. Ultimately, efforts must be continued to bridge digital divides and ensure that new media technologies are utilized for the greater good and positive social change.

In conclusion, new media technologies have revolutionized the way people access and consume information, communicate with others, and form relationships. However, as explored through different subtopics, a significant digital divide exists based on demographic and socio-economic factors such as age, social class, and gender.

The relevance of this topic in the field of sociology lies in the understanding of how media affects society, communication norms, influence shaping perceptions, and accessibility to information, opportunities, and resources. Readers should be aware that there are efforts to bridge the digital divide, and that increasing digital literacy, promoting internet access for all, and reducing the digital divide ultimately benefit society as a whole.

FAQs:

1. What is the digital divide, and how does it affect society?

The digital divide refers to differences in new media usage patterns based on socio-economic or demographic factors, creating disparities in access to information, resources, and opportunities. 2.

How does age impact new media usage patterns?

Younger generations tend to use new media technologies more frequently than older generations.

3. How does social class impact new media usage?

Individuals in higher socio-economic groups engage with technology more than individuals in lower socio-economic groups. 4.

How does gender impact new media usage?

Women tend to use social media more frequently than men, and men are more interested in current events than women.

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