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Friday, September 20 • 11:38am - 12:11pm
Building Our Own Bridges; How a Distressed Urban Neighborhood Bridges the Digital Divide

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Prior research on digital divides and inequalities demonstrates that those who have multiple Internet access points engage in broader and more capital-enhancing online uses (Dutton & Blank, 2013, 2014; Zillien & Hargittai, 2009). These capital-enhancing uses, in turn, can serve as one mechanism to help narrow socio-economic inequities in distressed communities. By understanding online behavior as it relates to different points of access such as mobile, home and public access, as well as different types of devices, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile phones, policy makers can take steps to narrow digital divides. This paper examines highly distressed urban communities in the city of Detroit, Michigan. Based on 525 telephone surveys of Detroit residents, this study uses a path modeling approach to examine the relationship between socio-economic variables, attitudes toward the internet, different points of access and devices, and different types of capital-enhancing Internet uses, such as e-commerce, looking for health information, reading the news and job seeking. Although home access has been dubbed the gold standard of going online in the past, we argue that policy makers can leverage and enhance existing modes of access such as mobile phones and public access to better facilitate capital-enhancing online activities.


Nicol Turner-Lee

Brookings Institution


Bianca Reisdorf

UNC Charlotte

Laleah Fernandez

Michigan State University
avatar for Ruth Shillair, Ph.D.

Ruth Shillair, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Director of Master's Program, Department of Media & Information Studies, Michigan State University
Interests include: improving protections for individuals by improving cybersecurity, reducing digital divides, making cybersecurity/privacy usable.

Friday September 20, 2019 11:38am - 12:11pm PDT
YT17 WCL, 4300 Nebraska Ave, Washington DC