You could live on the border of a digital divide.

In 2015, it’s hard to imagine life without the Internet – especially for those of us who use the Internet on a daily basis for socializing, studying and even working. But according to Mashable, only 71% of Americans subscribe to broadband Internet at home. In other words, millions of people in America don’t use the Internet. See this shocking infographic.

This was shocking to me because I know I couldn’t go to school or do anything I like to do without the Internet. How do these people apply to jobs or colleges? How do they get directions to unfamiliar places or find out about anything!?

The truth is, most of the people in the U.S. without Internet access don’t go to school and have low-paying jobs. It’s an unfortunate cycle that keeps lower-income Americans from getting Internet access, and keeps people without Internet access from getting higher incomes. Internet is expensive in America – more expensive than other first-world countries – and this leaves people in rural or poor areas behind.

School districts around the country are also effected by the lack of Internet access in these areas. In Jacksonville, North Carolina (hometown represent…), Digital Millennium Consulting did a study where they gave high school students smartphones with special software to help them with algebra. At the end of the year, students who used the smart phones to help them with algebra did 25% better on end-of-year tests than students who were not given the smart phones. None of the students used outside Internet help for the purposes of the experiment.

The digital divide leaves so many people behind, and the majority of us forget who is and is not on the Internet. To think that people from my hometown go without Internet but also go to the same schools me and my friends went to is insane. Having Internet access gives people an advantage automatically – I wonder who the honors students would have been if everyone had Internet access.

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