Today’s parents understand how important how important the Internet can be in when it comes to learning. Unfortunately, there are many families out there that simply can’t afford the costs of going online. According to the Pew Research Center, there are approximately 5 million households with kids in this so-called “broadband gap,” putting the future of the next generation at risk.
A Pew Research Center analysis of 2013 U.S. Census data shows that 82.5% of American homes with children have access to the Internet. But when you look at families that make less that $50,000 a year, that number drops to just 68.6%. Lower income minority households with kids are especially impacted – African-American and Hispanic broadband adoption rates trail white households with kids by about 10 percentage points.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel weighed in on the Pew analysis. “Today, 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires Internet access. Kids may be connected in the classroom, but if they are disconnected at home getting basic schoolwork done is hard. Researching a paper and applying for scholarships and jobs is tough without reliable broadband access. But as the Pew Research Center demonstrates, five million American families with students at home go without regular broadband access –and fall into the Homework Gap. This is the cruelest part of the new digital divide. We need to bridge this gap and fix this problem because our shared economic future depends on it.”
If your household is struggling to afford Internet access at home, there are programs available that might be able to help. Comcast, for example, offers a $9.99 per month Internet Essentials 5Mbps service plan to families with children enrolled in the National School Lunch Program. Other providers have programs aimed at low-income families as well, and the ones that don’t will often work with you and lower your rate on request rather than lose you as a customer entirely. It never hurts to call.
[Mom and daughter using computer via Shutterstock]