Older generations often think of young people as digital natives, assuming that they have never known a world without the internet. However, just as a generational gap exists in internet usage, a digital divide also exists among the youth. About 346 million young people (more than 29 percent of the world’s youth) are not connected to the internet.
The digital divide mirrors the economic one among countries and regions. Three out of five young people in Africa are not connected to the internet, compared to just one out of twenty-five in Europe. This means millions of children—most of them in developing countries—are deprived of the opportunities that the internet provides.
Closing these gaps in internet access for young people, and for all demographic groups, is an important part of helping communities and countries succeed in an age in which the internet has transformed how we trade, make financial transactions, share ideas, and do so much more. In fact, the internet is so integral to economic development, and so central to every aspect of modern life, that bridging the digital divide has become an international priority: achieving universal, affordable access by 2030 is a target of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.