Why Smartphones Alone Won’t Close the Digital Divide

Sacramento Bee

Sunne Wright McPeak | August 21, 2016

There is much to celebrate in the Field Poll’s annual survey on the “digital divide” in California. The percentage of Californians with high-speed internet at home has risen to 84 percent in 2016 from 55 percent in 2008.

But the divide between those who have broadband at home and those who do not is closing largely because of smartphones. The 2016 survey found that among the 84 percent with home broadband, 14 percent are connecting only through their smartphones. This percentage is a near doubling of smartphone-only users since last year.

No doubt, smartphones are marvelous devices that provide access to information and online applications. But they are limited functionally for doing school homework, applying for jobs or college or taking online courses.

The problem is that those who rely only on smartphones are the very people most in need of the upward economic mobility enhanced by internet-connected computing devices.

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