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By Nico R. and Kevin H.

Digital divide seems to choose who has access to the use of information and communication technologies. It refers to the difference of individuals in various geographical areas and businesses that are separate into developing and developed countries. The digital divide can affect those who do not have access to internet or ways to find current health news.

Internet use has increased in the United States as well as the access to any type of media device. It is a definite fact that poorer people may not be able to afford technology. Poorly funded schools aren’t always able to offer regular use of technology to their students. It is obvious that those who cannot afford to have internet access will be less knowledgeable about different ways to prevent diseases because they’re limited on the amount of information on current health news. Digital divide differentiates countries like the United States and china to low developed countries like Guatemala and Africa. A documentary called Brazil, talks about the struggles of the poor population who cannot afford to pay for medicines or doctors. This documentary is based on drug dealers in Rio De Janeiro who sale drugs to those who can’t afford to pay for medicines.

Brazil is a perfect example of how digital divide affects how long people can live. A poor area of Rio De Janeiro suffers the lack of health news and medicine options to cure their kids. The drug dealers of this country feel like they save lives because it is cheaper to control pain with marijuana or cocaine than going to the pharmacy to buy the medicine needed to control the disease. The documentary shows a little girl who is dying of fever and convulsions but her mother is clueless of what it takes to cure the child. This is when digital divide should come into play where her mother can have access to internet to find out what does it take for the pain and the convulsions to go away.

An article posted on www.sciencedirect.com called Africa and the digital divide talks about the possible solutions to digital divide in countries like Ghana and South Africa. this article disscuses how digital divide can be identified by the following points: The lack of ‘‘mental access’’ refers to a lack of elementary digital experience, The lack of ‘‘material access’’ means a lack of possession of computers and network connections, The lack of ‘‘skill access’’ is a lack of digital skills, The lack of ‘‘usage access’’ signifies the lack of meaningful usage opportunities.

Horak in his part of the article says “Niger is the country with the third lowest Internet access rate in Africa (onlyLiberia (0.03%) and Congo Democratic Republic (0.1%) have a lower rate; Ethiopia has an equal rate of 0.2%), and it is ranked the lowest developing country in the world in the Human Development Report (2005, p. 222). 61.4% of the population in Niger live on less than 1$ per day which is considered as the measure of absolute income poverty by the UN, 85.3% live on less than 2$ per day.” Poverty limits Africa to the access of media and the need of survival resources.

Internet access can definitely benefit one's healthy directly in a situation where one feels ill… It's common, nowadays, if you feel ill, to google your symptoms. Extremely popular sites like wrongdiagnosis.com and webmd.com provide its users which free analyses of reported symptoms, suggesting a handful of diseases which could be causing their problems. Though this does sound extreme, and it cannot take the place of real doctor interaction, it's undoubtedly saved the lives of many who've experienced symptoms that would not have concerned them otherwise. By receiving these suggestions, people become aware of possible illnesses they could have, providing them with that final push to see their doctor and receive treatment.

News articles on the internet can notify internet users of certain epidemics sweeping the nation. Many people don't typically watch the news at all; they get most of their current information from generic news sites like yahoo.com, aol.com, or msn.com that are often set as internet user's home pages. Articles about things like say, the swine flue, can help better educate the user about how to avoid catching the disease. There are numerous articles published regularly during cold and flue season that list ways one can avoid getting sick, etc. Similarly news sites can post articles concerning even natural disasters, or even on criminal activity. Lots of websites basically function as news channels for their users. This type of awareness gives internet users a major edge vs. those without internet access.

Studies on the healthy benefits of internet usage have been conducted which suggest that those who use the internet regularly have better cognitive brain function, and lower rates of depression in senior citizens. "According to research released in October, spending time online reduces depression and increases cognitive brain function among senior citizens. A study conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Phoenix Center found that spending time online reduces depression by 20% for senior citizens." Apperently, said internet usage among seionr Americans could "help trim the nation's health care bill."Reasearchers from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California-Los Angeles found a mere week of web-surfing stimulated areas of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning in middle-aged and older adults.