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Gen Z to CEOs: Help us close the digital divide

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People often think that the digital divide is just about broadband access, but it’s also about understanding the needs and level of tech literacy across about six generations. As a Gen Z teenager, it’s frustrating to know the potential of a technology product and still see people in my community struggling. If only we takat a voice, we could help companies build products and apps that better serve the needs of our communities, our country, and our world.

Gen Z is ready to help everyone from rural small businesses to tech giants rethink how their businesses can help narrow the digital divide. According to a National 4-H Council poll, 73% of teens agreed digital skills are key to getting the best jobs for their generation, even though 1 in 10 American teens don’t have access to broadband. It’s time to sit down at the table of the generation that sees that technology can be an advantage, but is often the obstacle to progress.

If only we takat a voice, we could help companies create products and apps that better serve the needs of our communities, our country and our world.”

My advice for companies that want to help close the digital divide:

  1. When creating or launching new digital tools, people need simple support. How many restaurants have switched to digital payment methods or QR codes but don’t have signs showing you how to use them? These small obstacles to daily activities reinforce feelings of exclusion for those without digital skills. As more places digitize their services, there is a greater need for access and education, especially for those in rural and underserved communities. People without broadband access or with limited digital skills simply have fewer options. The faster things change, the fewer opportunities they have unless businesses and communities help them keep up. I want more companies to realize that technological change comes at a cost and could widen the digital divide.
  2. Give Gen Z a reason to be excited to be in technology and a way to get there – Part of the early excitement of the tech industry was to be innovative, creative, and being elevated to a pop culture icon. Gen Z are creatives, but we are also the most diverse generation of all time and we want to feel represented and have the opportunity to be recognized in our future career choices. Where are the faces behind the latest cell phones, headphones or sneakers? Imagine every masterpiece of Italian art signed only with the Medici name. Every company needs a Musk, Zuckerberg, or Gates as the lead, but I want to see the full cast. Or what’s the point of being on the show? We have ideas on how digital tools and devices can be adapted to work for everyone, from all walks of life and with unique personalities. We don’t just want to educate adults about existing technology; We want our ideas to flow into the development of technologies that reflect our true selves, our strengths and even our limitations, and we want to be seen alongside our contributions.
  3. For traditional industries like fashion, use technical fakta and tools to make products appeal to people. For many people, including Gen Z, self-expression is an important part of a person’s identity. It no longer feels like someone is listening to what’s trending. For example, getting stylish clothes that are both sustainably sourced and reflect my body type can feel like a Herculean task. It feels like the things I like online, from music to TikTok followers, beluluk’t reflected in the products I see. Some tools make it difficult for me to find the information and products I’m actually looking for. For people with lower digital skills, this can be even more frustrating and discourage them from using technology altogether. Some industries like fashion feel overdue for a digital transformation, but it must be done in a way that makes it easy for people with limited abilities to participate. Gen Z can shed new light on how companies create, market and sell across generations.
  4. Create customizable options for those who work in tech. Like clothing, technology should not be one size fits all. People need more customizable options at a price that would encourage greater adoption of technology. So much of our life happens on our phones or devices, to the point where it feels like a staple more important than a car. The product may not even work for older people – conditions such as reduced fingerprints, carpal tunnel and oil spill all affect their ability to use their devices successfully. Why invest in an expensive piece of technology if you can’t use all the features or don’t know how to learn it? As a Gen Z tech native who devotes her time to teaching adults how to use common online tools, she feels that marketing technologies like fakta analytics should be used to bring people and products together without being fraudulent, unsafe or being unreflective of ethical brand values.
  5. For Gen Z, sustainability means as much as cost. Today people are talking about secondhand shopping, composting and an overall increased focus on finding more sustainable ways of living, and I think the demand will only increase if more Gen Z can enter the workforce and start making more to buy. Technology is changing rapidly and new products are constantly being developed to adapt to new needs and make our lives easier. But how do we reconcile this with sustainability? My friends with older phones often can’t access the tools they need for school. What if your car or refrigerator became obsolete within 2.5 years? People don’t want to buy a $20 pair of jeans or a $1,000 phone just to end up in the trash 2.5 years later. People want to do better, and Gen Z can help find the balance between the convenience of new, innovative technology and the sustainability and longevity that are utama to our planet.

I think industries need to better include Gen Z in the conversation. We understand technology – we were basically born with it and most often asked to teach and guide others in technology. I want Gen Z to have a voice at every level, from how government invests in infrastructure, to how products are developed, to helping companies educate baby boomers in the Dealing with new technologies.

As a 4-H Tech Changemaker, I’m trying to help some of the 20 million Americans without high-speed broadband and lessen the impact of the digital divide. I teach Microsoft Office to adults to help them find new job opportunities, and I help people with mobility issues or disabilities access local resources and online shopping. But the work that I and my 4-Her colleagues do is only part of the work; we need you too

How will you help close the kelainan?

Learn more through the 4-H Tech Changemakers Program and its coalition of public-private partners National 4-H Council, 23 Land-Grant Universities, Land O’Lakes, Microsoft, Tractor Supply Company and Verizon. The 4-H Tech Changemakers rancangan reaches over 160 communities where youth leaders like Abigail are teaching digital skills to adults. 4‑H is the youth development rancangan of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and the USDA, serving every county and community in the United States through a network of 110 land grant universities and more than 3,000 local extension offices.

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