The pandemic began almost a year ago and technology has been a lifeline for many. But months and months of Zoom calls later, the world is still adjusting to life lived primarily online.

A Pew Research Center study found that about a month after the COVID-19 quarantine began in the United States, 87% of adults thought the internet was important to them during the outbreak, with 53% calling it essential. To see friends and family, go to school, work, order supplies, and play, it’s hard to imagine what the mental and physical impact of his absence would be.

Yet many are faced with it, especially as unemployment rises and federal aid represents next to nothing. As COVID-19 has spread, and with the prospect of a long winter ahead, providing mobile and broadband service becomes increasingly difficult. Twenty-eight percent of broadband users worry a lot or part about paying their broadband bills, and 30% of smartphone users have some or a lot of worries about paying their phone bill. These issues are particularly prevalent for the Hispanic population, with more than half of those surveyed expressing anxiety over these bills.

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Graph showing percentage worried about paying broadband and cellphone bills

(Pew Research Center)

COVID-19 has exposed a multitude of inequities in society, and the digital divide is on that list. As technology becomes more important in our lives, it has also become another avenue closed to too many people.

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