Technology and learning in lower-income families

Opportunity for All report cover

In a recent study, Victoria Rideout and Vikki Katz looked at computer usage and internet adoption by low-income families across the country. Their findings highlight the disparities in access to computer technology and affordable, high-speed internet access at home. 23% of families living at or below the median income level ($64,000 for a family with 1 or more children under 18) only have access to the internet through mobile devices. This number jumps to 33% for families below the poverty level. For those families that do have access to home internet, nearly half report that the service is too-slow or unreliable. Families surveyed for this report indicated that the main reason that they do not own a computer and/or have access to broadband internet is the cost.

The report also looks at what families in low-income households use the internet for. Adults with home internet access use it for a variety of activities including online banking, shopping, connecting with friends and family, reading the news, and applying for jobs. However, families with mobile-only access generally only use the internet to connect with family and friends, missing out on many of the resources available to them. For students a similar pattern emerged. Those with home internet access report much higher rates of internet usage for homework, online learning, and engaging in creative activities than their peers with mobile-only access.

Check out the full report here.

Rideout, V. J. & Katz, V.S. (2016). Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in lower-income families. A report of the Families and Media Project. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.