A digital divide is an economic inequality between groups, broadly construed, in terms of access to, use of, or knowledge of information and communication technologies (ICT). The divide inside countries (such as the digital divide in the United States) can refer to inequalities between individuals, households, businesses, and geographic areas at different socioeconomic and other demographic levels, while the Global digital divide designates countries as the units of analysis and examines the divide between developing and developed countries on an international scale.
Conceptualization of the digital divide is often as follows:
1. Subjects of connectivity, or who connects: individuals, organizations, enterprises, schools, hospitals, countries, etc.
2. Characteristics of connectivity, or which attributes: demographic and socio-economic variables, such as income, education, age, geographic location, etc.
3. Means of connectivity, or connectivity to what: fixed or mobile, Internet or telephony, digital TV, etc.
4. Intensity of connectivity, or how sophisticated the usage: mere access, retrieval, interactivity, innovative contributions.
5. Purpose of connectivity, or why individuals and their cohorts are (not) connecting: reasons individuals are and are not online and uses of the Internet and ICTs.
In research, while each explanation is examined, the others should be controlled for in order to eliminate interaction effects or mediating variables, but these explanations are meant to stand as general trends, not direct causes. Each of the above listed items can be looked at from different angles, which leads to a myriad of ways to look at (or define) the digital divide. For example, measurements for the intensity of usage, such as incidence and frequency, vary by study. Some report usage as access to Internet and ICTs while others report usage as having previously connected to the Internet. Some studies focus on...