By Corynn Johnson
INGDALE, Md. — Simone Issacs, a high school junior, tweets almost 200 times a day.
“It’s entertaining and lets things out,” she said.
A new divide is emerging in which the information gained from technology is dividing the nation. Access to technology is no longer the issue. It’s the way the technology is put to use.
According to the Digital Divide Institute, such a divide exists when there are groups of people who can gain from technology and those who cannot. This divide can be based on economic status, racial identity, gender or age, according to the institute.
While Isaacs is entertaining herself with tweets, not everyone uses technology to this degree.
Hessie Harris, 80, has a computer in her Washington, D.C., home that she never uses. She has a cellphone but doesn’t know how to text.
“I guess I’m old school,” she said.
According to the Pew Internet American Life Project, the fastest growth has come from internet users 74 and older. Social-network-site usage for this group has quadrupled since 2008, to 16 percent from 4 percent. Additionally, searching for health information, an activity that was once the primary domain of older adults, is now the third most popular online activity for all internet users 18 and older.
Tasia Joseph, a high school junior, uses her computer to do research, listen to music, get on Facebook or Twitter and check emails.
“I try to multi-task but it doesn’t help,” Joseph said. “I spend most of my time on entertainment things.”
Fifty-one percent of all online adults listen to music online, compared with 34 percent the last time this question was asked in June 2004, according to Pew.
George Ryan Taylor is a 60-year-old teacher at Charles Herbert Flowers High School here who also has access to the internet. He uses it for schoolwork, purchasing items and for keeping in contact with family and friends. He said his life wouldn’t be different without technology because he would just use another source to get information.
Taylor said he realizes the benefits of access to technology but understands why others in his generation are reluctant to use it.
“People don’t like change they are creatures of habit,” he said. “Some also don’t want to learn new things.”
While Taylor uses technology, he said there are downsides to being over-reliant on computers. He also said his students sometimes aren’t able to focus in class because they are distracted by their cellphones and music devices.
“It makes you lazy and not have to read,” he said.