Home Census Distance learning and digital equity during the pandemic, 2021

Distance learning and digital equity during the pandemic, 2021


SAN FRANCISCO, September 30, 2021 / PRNewswire / – As parents navigate third year of school under COVID-19 restrictions, new research from Common Sense Media indicates black and Hispanic / Latino youth have been disproportionately affected by the disruption. Children of color were twice as likely as white students to say they attended online school “all the time” since the start of the pandemic: 48% of Hispanic / Latino children and 39% of black youth, compared to only 20% of white children who said the same thing. Disparities in digital access have been glaring, and black and Hispanic / Latino students have experienced more tech-related educational disruption.

Common Sense Census Presents: Distance Learning and Digital Equity During the Pandemic explores how children aged 8 to 18 in the United States attended classes during the crisis, how they had access to computers and broadband while learning at home, and how often they encountered technical problems that disrupted their education.

Racial disparities in digital access persisted for more than a year after starting distance learning, when the survey was conducted: 92% of white students had a computer at home, compared to 78% of college students. black ; 88% of white students had broadband at home, compared to 68% of Hispanic / Latino students. More than half (55%) of Hispanic / Latino students and 43% of black students experienced technology-related disruption in learning “often” or “sometimes”, compared to 38% of white students.

The results of the study also illustrate the economic inequality in education that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Although local and federal funding has alleviated some pressures associated with distance learning, students from low-income households are still disproportionately affected by the digital divide. About one in four (24%) children in low-income households still do not have a computer at home, compared to just 5% of those in high-income families.

“Having a computer and internet access at home does not guarantee that the device and the service will be suitable for the needs of the students. But not having them is a guarantee that they will not,” said Michael robb, Senior Director of Research at Common Sense Media. “Disparities in the technological resources available to students of color and low-income families have had devastating implications for their ability to fully participate in distance learning during the pandemic. ”

This new research reaffirms the importance of digital equity and the need for all families to have access to broadband and home computers to help bridge the digital divide.

Main conclusions:

  1. Children of color and those from low-income households were much more likely to attend distance school during the pandemic than white children or those from richer households. Forty-one percent of white children report attending school mostly or entirely in person during the pandemic, compared to 24% of black youth and 18% of Hispanic / Latino youth.
  2. Almost one in five young people aged 8 to 18 still do not have access to residential broadband. Although 61% of low-income parents have a high-speed connection at home, 90% of high-income parents have a high-speed internet connection. Sixty-eight percent of Hispanic / Latino students and 76% of black students have a home broadband connection, compared to 88% of white students.
  3. The overwhelming majority of students attending distance school during the pandemic encountered technical issues that prevented them from attending classes or completing their homework. More than half (55%) of Hispanic / Latino students said they encountered such challenges “often” or “sometimes”, compared to 38% of White students.
  4. Students without broadband at home experienced more frequent interruptions in their education. Fifty-six percent of children without broadband encountered technical problems “often” or “sometimes”, compared to 41% of students with broadband access.

As students continue to return to class, the momentum to eliminate digital inequalities must be increased. Children, regardless of their racial or socio-economic background, should have access to affordable broadband devices and online learning devices. Increased federal and state funding as well as innovative policy solutions are needed to permanently bridge the digital divide.

Methodology: The data comes from a nationally representative online probability-based survey of 1,318 American youth ages 8 to 18 and their parents or guardians. The survey was conducted from May 7 to June 3, 2021 by Ipsos Public Affairs for Common Sense Media, using the Ipsos KnowledgePanel.©. The survey was offered in English and Spanish. The report was written by Victoria rideout by VJR Consulting and Michael robb common sense.

Find more of our research on the digital divide here.

Learn more about Common Sense resources for distance learning and bridging the digital divide here.

About common sense
Common Sense is the nation’s leading nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of children and families by providing them with the information, education and independent voice they need to thrive in 21st century. Learn more about commonsense.org.

Media contacts
Jason maymon, Vice-president, Communications
[email protected]

Lorena Taboas, Manager, Media Relations
[email protected]

SOURCE Common Sense Media

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