In Beyond Access, L.D. Stanley examines the argument that cost and access are the primary deterrents to computer literacy. She does so by examining computer usage statistics of new users and nonusers at community technology centers and adult education centers in San Diego, CA. Through an ethnographic study, Stanley reveals that the underlying psychosocial elements of relevance, fear, and self-concept act as substantial motivation barriers to computer literacy.
Stanley found that nonusers often cite cost as an issue rather than addressing the underlying psychosocial barriers to computer literacy. Misconceptions about computers often led to nonusers rejecting them as personally relevant rather than making informed decisions about computers in their lives.
Self-efficacy prevented many from using computers, either due to fear of appearing foolish or fear of doing irreparable damage to the machines themselves. The anxiety and embarrassment that potential users felt over their computer illiteracy transcended divides of gender, education, and age (411).
Cultural identity and self-concept influenced individuals' perceptions about their relationship to computers and corresponding computer literacy rates. Stanley's research suggests that the acquisition of computer skills is directly correlated to an individual's ability to visualize herself as the type of person who uses a computer (412).
In the end, Stanley advocates for outreach efforts that underscore the plethora of economic and social advantages that computer literacy can provide. In order to be effective in breaking down the psychosocial barriers of relevance, fear, and self-concept, outreach efforts must be executed in culturally appropriate ways. By shifting the focus from access to outreach, Stanley believes that communities will be more effective in bridging the digital divide.