News

The ‘under-connected’ are the new internet access challenge

By Laura Devaney, Director of News, @eSN_Laura
February 15th, 2016

internet-access

Study finds that discount internet programs reach few low-income families

Though technology’s critical role in academic and workforce success is increasing, many low- and moderate-income families, while connected to the internet, are plagued by slow speeds or mobile-only device access, according to a new study.

The vast majority of surveyed low- and moderate-income families are connected to the internet (94 percent), but many rely on mobile-only access (23 percent) and more than half (52 percent) of those with home internet access say it is too slow, a quarter (26 percent) say too many people share the same computer, and one fifth (20 percent) say their internet was cut off in the last year due to lack of payment.

The study, Opportunity for All? Technology and Learning in Low-Income Families, from Rutgers and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, is based on a nationally-representative telephone survey of nearly 1,200 parents of children ages 6 to 13 with household incomes below the national median.

The survey revealed substantial ethnic disparities, with Hispanic immigrant families being less connected than other families. One in five (20 percent) surveyed immigrant Hispanic parents do not go online at all, even occasionally, compared with 4 percent of Whites and U.S.-born Hispanics, and 2 percent of Blacks. Four in 10 (41 percent) Hispanic immigrant parents report mobile-only internet access, compared with 25 percent of Blacks, 16 percent of Whites, and 17 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics below the median income.

Next page: How being under-connected impacts technology use