Digital divide refers to differences among the population created by lack of access to information technology. The poor, rural, elderly and handicapped populations traditionally receive less access to information technology than the wealthy, middle class, young or urban populations.
The digital divide contributes to several socioeconomic problems. Without access to technology, many lack the wealth of education available to certain populations. This disparity creates not only an imbalance of educational opportunity, but also affects a population's earning power. The digital divide constructs a self-perpetuating cycle that results in further widening of the gap.
The problems of the digital divide are interwoven with the many other socioeconomic problems such as poverty. Households with low incomes are less likely to be able to afford technology, thus resulting in a lack of knowledge about its use and continuing the self-perpetuating cycle that keeps that digital divide in place.
Universal access to technology can help narrow the digital divide. Federal programs to provide universal access to technology are aimed at making sure all citizens have the technological literacy skills needed for the future. Corporate and non-profit agencies also recognize the advantage of having a technologically literate workforce, and some provide training and support to facilitate the narrowing of the gap.