Technology Update

High-Tech Divide

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Significant disparities persist in children’s access to the Internet, even though 96 percent of 8- to 18-year-olds have gone online at least once, according to new findings from previously released surveys conducted in 2004 and 2003 by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Kaiser Family Foundation.

The survey data show that children of those ages who have less-educated parents, or who attend schools in lower-income communities, were less likely than other children to use the Internet on a typical day or to have Internet access at home.

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That result was similar to the federal government’s most recent large study of the topic, in 2001, which found that half of all children ages 3 to 17 from families with incomes of $75,000 or more had Internet access at home, while just 15 percent of those from families with incomes of $20,000 to $25,000 did, according to the Kaiser issue brief released earlier this month.

The brief said that, based on a 2004 Kaiser survey, 80 percent of white children age 8 or older have Internet access at home, compared with 61 percent of African-American children of the same ages.

Similarly, 82 percent of children whose parents have a college education have home Internet access, compared with 68 percent of those whose parents have only a high school education or less.

The brief also cites a 2003 Kaiser telephone survey of parents of children ages 6 months to 6 years old.

That survey revealed that 39 percent of the children from families with annual incomes of $75,000 or more have never gone online, while 69 percent of children from families with incomes of less than $20,000 have never gone online.

Among children 6 months to 6 years old, only 8 percent from homes with annual incomes of $75,000 or more lacked a home computer, compared with 40 percent of those from homes with annual incomes of from $20,000 to $29,999.

The issue brief includes the newly released data and the latest information on wiring the nation’s schools and libraries, addressing topics such as the speed of Internet connections and what children are doing online.

The report also examines current federal policies and policy ideas that could address the so-called digital divide.

Vol. 24, Issue 05, Page 10

Published in Print: September 29, 2004, as High-Tech Divide

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