The digital divide between rich and poor kids

11/6/18 12:32 PM

There's been much discussion about the socio-economic digital divide. But, it's not what we expect. Originally about access to technology, the new digital divide is actually about limiting access to technology.

There's an interesting shift away from technology use, with many elite schools banning screens altogether. This is a strong trend in Silicon Valley, where the offspring of those developing the technology are opting their own children out of using it.

"It wasn’t long ago that the worry was that rich students would have access to the internet earlier, gaining tech skills and creating a digital divide....but now, as Silicon Valley’s parents increasingly panic over the impact screens have on their children and move toward screen-free lifestyles, worries over a new digital divide are rising. It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction."

Persuasive technologies

The technology hub of Silicon Valley use business models that rely on our screen addiction. Essentially, the longer we give our screens "eyeball time", the more money app creators make by selling our attention and access to our personal data to advertisers. You and I are not customers of Facebook or Google; we are the product being sold.

Persuasive technology is a new field of research that studies how computers can be used to control human thoughts and actions. Drawing on neuroscience and behavioural psychology, apps, interfaces and devices are deliberately designed to encourage certain human behaviours (eg the interaction through the 'like' button for a quick dopamine hit). The more engaged and the longer we stay on our devices, the better.

“If, 20 years ago, I had announced that we would soon be creating machines that control humans, there would have been an uproar,” wrote B.J. Fogg, a Stanford University behaviour scientist who was one of the first academics to seriously study how computers influence human behaviour. But now, he notes, “we are surrounded by persuasive technologies.”

Family Zone Partner School Program

The Family Zone Partner School Program provides schools and their school communities with a solution to tackle the numerous challenges facing young people with unrestricted access to the Internet, including:

  • Staying up late online; sleepy in class
  • Accessing online environments before being of age (eg Facebook, Instagram under 13yo)
  • Managing screen time; setting routines including homework time
  • Accessing harmful adult content online
  • Online gaming addiction

Mobile Zone integrates with School Manager (Linewize), ensuring that off-network mobile devices comply with school internet use policies. Parents then have control out of school time and can set routines in their parent portal to manage internet use. 


The Family Zone solution ensures schools are able to meet their duty of care, and parents are provided with a powerful tool to help gain visibility into - and to manage - their child’s access to online environments. All while being assured that powerful filtering will prevent children stumbling across harmful on potentially unsafe networks. 

Learn more about Family Zone’s Partner Program and Mobile Zone here, or contact us today. 





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