12:00pm to 1:00pm

Dr. Amy Gonzales, Department of Communication Colloquium

The Importance of Digital Access for Marginalized Individuals

Living through the pandemic has highlighted our dependence on digital technology for every aspect of daily life in the US (e.g. work, education, social life, etc.). In this talk I present data from two studies collected before the pandemic demonstrating the essential nature of digital access for the health and well-being of individuals from marginalized communities. I first discuss data on the use of digital technology to broaden social networks constrained by historic segregation using the social diversification framework. I also present findings from a 6-month field experiment demonstrating the health benefits of stable access to cell-phones for very low-income participants where those with the fewest supportive relationships benefited the most from stable cell phone access, supporting a "poor-get-richer" effect. In tandem, these findings point to the need for state and federal policies that better ensure stable digital access for everyone. I will close with a brief discussion of the current state of federal digital subsidies.

Open to all: Stay after for a small-group discussion related to digital inequality and what role we as a community play in building a system with equal digital access.