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Title: Empirical insights on technology use for navigating human services
A considerable portion of the US population still lacks access to technology, which causes challenges for marginalized communities to access information and services. Research on the digital divide exists in various contexts, but few have examined it in the context of human services. This study examines the impact of socioeconomic status on the methods of communication used when searching for service-related information. We analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data collected from 63 low-income and/or current human service users in Albany, New York. Education showed positive associations with smartphone ownership and personal computer use. Income was found only significant for tablet use. Non-whites were more likely to use mobile apps to web browsers compared to whites. Qualitative analysis revealed three key themes (i.e., availability, ease of use, and usefulness) as influencers of individual preference of methods. Our findings suggest that the digital divide is not merely about the income level but also educational background and culture. Human service professionals need to consider multiple channels to reach targeted populations for service delivery. Particularly, the collaboration between service providers and public libraries is worth examining to ensure the physical access and skills training for those who experience the digital divide at multiple levels.
Authors:
; ;
Award ID(s):
1737443
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10196235
Journal Name:
Journal of Technology in Human Services
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1 to 21
ISSN:
1522-8835
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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