From “digital divide” to “cyber divide”

Acceptance of the digital transformation—a comparison between the perception of opportunities and risks in the online population of the cyberworld in Switzerland and the US

Swiss users search for cyber risks three times more often than users in the USA. Due to the pandemic, we suddenly lived in a largely digital society, and according to the ITU, 8.01 mio. active people in Switzerland use the countless opportunities offered by the Internet on a regular basis. It is hard to imagine life without the Internet. But what are the most important opportunities and risks that actually concern the Swiss and the US population? For example, how widespread are the dangers of the cyber world, such as hate speech, cyberbullying or cybergrooming? What channels are used to search for and to find information about such topics? Do we have a much too strong risk awareness (bias) towards the risky cyber topics in Switzerland compared to the USA? Do Swiss users focus too little on the numerous online opportunities of the digital world, while Americans take full advantage of this potential without any concerns? This is what the present study is investigating. Until about the year 2000, people were concerned about equal access to the Internet and identified a “digital divide”. Today, this issue is no longer discussed, at least not in industrialized countries. The authors now rather speak of a new divide where people are afraid of the new technologies whereas others are fully profiting of the advantage of the online and digital opportunities as a matter of fact. Therefore, the authors identify a new “cyber divide” that today primarily divides between risk- and opportunity-aware users.

Read the full open access article in German

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