Despite the fact entire companies and school systems have had to move online during the pandemic, a new report by Common Sense Media reveals that the digital divide continues to persist in the U.S.
33 percent of American kids living in lower income households do not have access to a family computer - in comparison to only 6 percent of high income families who do not. It’s a similar story for kids with access to tablets, where 60 percent of children from lower income families have access to one, versus 81 percent of children from more affluent families. According to the Pew Research Center, broadband gaps in the U.S. also feed into the problem, and are particularly prevalent in low income households.
With children needing to join classes online throughout the pandemic, as well as to logon to complete their homework, this has moved beyond an issue of access to tech, and also become one of access to education. The digital divide works to deepen inequalities that already exist within communities, threatening to leave kids in poorer households behind, and making it harder for them to catch up.
The Biden administration’s infrastructure bill of 2021 set aside $65 billion for broadband infrastructure deployment. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, according to the Harvard Business Review, it fell far short of what was needed to give high speed internet access to every person in the country. According to Rollcall, The Democrats now hope to pass an even bigger bill to secure this mission.