Overcoming New Forms of Digital Divide: Some Remarks on the Need for Media Education
Keywords:digital divide, prosumerism, media education
Recent studies have proved the emergence of new forms of digital divide, related to users’ socio-economic background, that limit the possibilities of a proper and conscious use of ICTs. In order to overcome digital inequalities, simple skills assessed by the European Computer Driving Licence are not sufficient as the necessary digital competences consist rather of users’ ability to achieve specific offline outcomes and reflect on the deep mechanisms that regulate the organisation of the Internet. The Network Society implies old and new forms of exploited labour and reveals its belonging to a cultural industry where users are consumers and producers (prosumers) at the same time. This ‘third job’ goes far beyond the exchange for the services offered, and the pleasant entertainment hides forms of abuse. Users’ behaviour is a commodity under the guise of information that generates wealth for third parties and may negatively affect the lives of unaware people.
This paper uses the ‘clue paradigm’ in order to identify some ‘traces’ of the third-level digital divide both in ‘mass’ adhesion to the most popular social network sites and in the limited use of educational software. The outcomes of a qualitative study conducted in Italy among some students and teachers highlight the need for media education that is not just training to improve technical skills.
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