Does Home Internet Use Influence the Academic Performance of Low-Income Children?

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Abstract

HomeNetToo is a longitudinal field study designed to examine the antecedents and consequences of home Internet use in low-income families (http://www.HomeNetToo.org). The study was done between December 2000 and June 2002. Among the consequences considered was children's academic performance. Participants were 140 children, mostly African American (83%), mostly boys (58%), and most living in single-parent households (75%) in which the median annual income was $15,000 (U.S. dollars) or less. Average age was 13.8 years. Ages ranged between 10 and 18 years, Internet use was continuously recorded, and multiple measures of academic performance were obtained during the 16-month trial. Findings indicated that children who used the Internet more had higher scores on standardized tests of reading achievement and higher grade point averages 6 months, 1 year, and 16 months later than did children who used it less. Older children used the Internet more than did younger children, but age had no effect on the nature or the academic performance benefits of Internet use. Implications for the digital “use” divide are discussed.

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