How limited internet access can subtract from kids’ education

(Last Updated On: February 10, 2016)

Untitled1_001Can a kid succeed in school with only a mobile device for Internet access at home? Lorena Uribe doesn’t have to think about that one: “Absolutely not,” she says.

When her old computer broke down several years ago, she and her teenage daughter found themselves in a bind for about five months: homework to do and no computer or broadband access at home.

“I would take her to the mall and have her sit in Panera so she could use the Wi-Fi on her iPad from school,” Uribe says.

Now, the Internet connection at their home near San Diego is a cord in the wall, attached to a desktop that they bought through a discount program at school. Uribe says sometimes Web pages take a while to load and it can get annoying — but it works.

“You have Internet; you have a computer. What more do you really, really need?” she says.

Researchers from Rutgers University and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop collected dozens of stories like Uribe’s for a new study – ‘Opportunity for all?’ – focused specifically on lower-income families with school-age children.

They surveyed nearly 1,200 parents with kids between 6 and 13 years old, whose income is below the national median for families with children. They found that even among the poorest households, 9 in 10 families do havesome access to the Internet, but in many cases that means dial-up or a mobile data plan.

“Our data is one of the first, if not the first time that we can really comprehensively look at whether or not having mobile-only access — meaning that you don’t have it through a computer or a desktop — whether or not it’s equivalent. And what our findings show is that it is not,” says co-author Vikki Katz.

Source: NPR

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