NCES Blog | Students’ Internet Access Before and During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Household Socioeconomic Status (2023)

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Students’ Internet Access Before and During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Household Socioeconomic Status

September 20, 2021 NCES Blog Editor Findings, General

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The pandemic has focused attention on the resources needed for students to engage equitably in educational opportunities, particularly during remote learning. While access to computers and the internet were important to education prior to the pandemic—as tools for word processing, research, and communication after school hours, or even as the primary means of schooling—they became essential tools for students to remain engaged during the 2020–21 academic year. Reflecting this importance both before and during the pandemic, recent NCES blogs have highlighted data on virtual schools and geographic differences in digital access. This blog presents additional insight on these topics from the Condition of Education 2021. Specifically, it highlights patterns of inequity in access to educational technology by socioeconomic status, both before and during the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the Coronavirus Pandemic

According to the American Community Survey (ACS),1the higher the level of parental educational attainment, the higher the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access in 2019. For instance, the percentage with home internet access was highest for those whose parents had attained a bachelor’s or higher degree (99 percent) and lowest for those whose parents had less than a high school credential (83 percent) (figure 1).

Similarly, the higher the level of family income, the higher the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access in 2019. Specifically, the percentage with home internet access was highest for those in families in the highest income quarter (99 percent) and lowest for those in families in the lowest income quarter (89 percent) (figure 1).2

Figure 1. Percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access and home internet access only through a smartphone, by parental education and family income quarter: 2019

NCES Blog | Students’ Internet Access Before and During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Household Socioeconomic Status (4)

1Includes those who completed high school through equivalency credentials, such as the GED.
NOTE: Includes only 3- to 18-year-olds living in households (respondents living in group quarters such as shelters, healthcare facilities, or correctional facilities were not asked about internet access). Includes 3- to 18-year-olds who had home internet access only through a smartphone but did not have any of the following types of computers: desktop or laptop, tablet or other portable wireless computer, or “some other type of computer.” Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 702.12.

While internet access is nearly universal in the United States (95 percent of all 3- to 18-year-olds had access in 2019), not all families access the internet the same way. Specifically, 88 percent had access through a computer,3and 6 percent relied on a smartphone for their home internet access.4,5

In 2019, the higher the level of parental educational attainment, the lower the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds who relied on a smartphone for their home internet access. Similarly, the higher the level of family income, the lower the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds who relied on a smartphone for their home internet access. For instance, the percentage who relied on a smartphone for their home internet access was lowest for those in families in the highest income quarter (1 percent) and highest for those in families in the lowest income quarter (14 percent) (figure 1).

(Video) Taking the Pulse of American Households during COVID 19

Taken together with the patterns for overall home internet access, these findings reveal that access only through a smartphone is generally more common for groups with lower rates of internet access overall. Importantly, although smartphones can be useful tools for staying connected, they offer more limited functionality for applications such as word processing or interactive learning platforms. In other words, overall levels of internet access mask further inequities in mode of access, which have implications for whether/how the internet can be used as an educational tool.

During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As students moved en masse to online learning during the pandemic, access to internet-connected devices became a requirement for students to participate effectively in their new learning environments. The pre-pandemic data described above suggest that not all students would have been in a position to take advantage of these remote classrooms, and that this would be true of a higher percentage of students whose parents had lower incomes or lower levels of educational attainment.

Some schools and districts helped students meet these needs by providing computers or paying for home internet access. Data from the Household Pulse Survey (HPS) show that 59 percent of adults6with children in the home enrolled in school7reported that computers were provided by their school or district. This percentage was generally higher for those with lower 2019 household incomes, ranging from 68 percent for adults with household incomes below $25,000 to 50 percent for adults with household incomes over $150,000 (figure 2). A similar pattern was observed for internet access. Overall, 4 percent of adults said internet access was paid for by their students’ district or school, ranging from 8 percent for adults in the lowest household income range to about 1 percent for those in the highest household income range. These patterns are consistent with higher rates of assistance going to families with higher rates of expected need (as indicated in figure 1).

Figure 2. Among adults 18 years old and over who had children under 18 in the home enrolled in school, percentage reporting that computers and internet access were always or usually available and provided or paid for by schools or school districts, by income level: September 2 to 14, 2020

NCES Blog | Students’ Internet Access Before and During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Household Socioeconomic Status (5)

NOTE: Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data. Data in this figure are considered experimental and do not meet NCES standards for response rates. The survey question refers to enrollment at any time during the 2020–21 school year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Household Pulse Survey, collection period of September 2 to 14, 2020. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, tables 218.85 and 218.90.

Even with this assistance from schools and districts, however, socioeconomic inequalities in students’ access to computers and internet were not eliminated. In general, the percentage of adults who reported that these resources were always or usually available increased with household income. For example, in September 2020, the percentage of adults reporting that computers were always or usually available was highest for the two household income levels at or above $100,000 and lowest for the two household income levels below $50,000. Similarly, the percentage of adults reporting that internet access was always or usually available was higher for the three household income levels at or above $75,000 than for the three household income levels below $75,000.

Both before and during the pandemic, these data show that overall access to education technology in the United States is high. This access is bolstered by widespread access to mobile devices like smartphones and—at least during the 2020–21 academic year—by resources provided by students’ schools and districts, particularly for students from lower socioecnomic backgrounds. Nevertheless, inequalities persist. As the prevalence of technology in education grows, it will be important to continue to track equity not only in access but also in quality of access and frequency and competency of use.

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Explore the following resources to learn more about students’ access to, use of, and competency with education technology.

General

Access

  • Condition of Education 2021

Use

Competency

By Véronique Irwin, NCES

[1] The American Community Survey (ACS) provides a large monthly sample of demographic, socioeconomic, and housing data comparable in content to the Long Forms of the Decennial Census. Aggregated over time, these data serve as a replacement for the Long Form of the Decennial Census. This section of the blog post uses data from ACS to describe the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access and the percentage with home internet access only through a smartphone in 2019.

[2] The highest quarter refers to the top 25 percent of all family incomes; the middle-high quarter refers to the 51st through the 75th percentile of all family incomes; the middle-low quarter refers to the 26th through the 50th percentile of all family incomes; and the lowest quarter refers to the bottom 25 percent of all family incomes.

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[3] Refers to the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access through one or more of the following types of computers: desktop or laptop, tablet or other portable wireless computer, or “some other type of computer.” Includes homes having both smartphones and any of these types of computers.

[4] Refers to the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds who had home internet access only through a smartphone but did not have any of the types of computers listed in endnote 3.

[5] Detail does not sum to totals because of rounding.

[6] The Household Pulse Survey, conducted by the Census Bureau and other agencies including NCES, gathers information from adults about household educational activities (as well as other topics). Because the data focus on adults, findings from HPS are not directly comparable to those from ACS mentioned above.

[7] According to HPS data, 52 million adults had children under age 18 in the home enrolled in school in September 2020. Overall, two-thirds (67 percent) of these adults reported that classes for their children had moved to a distance learning format using online resources.

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FAQs

How many students have access to technology at home in the US? ›

Across all public schools, 81 percent of 4th-grade students and 88 percent of 8th-grade students said that they had digital access (figures 1 and 2).

How does poor internet affect students? ›

There are many ways that a lack of internet access can affect a student's academic performance. Students without internet can't connect with teachers or classmates, do independent research, or get online homework help.

What percentage of households have internet? ›

As of 2020, 85.5 percent of total U.S. households reported having some internet subscription.

Should students get limited access to the internet? ›

Internet access should have limited access to students because there are some contents and sites in the internet which exposed pornography contents wherein it might affect their development especially how they think. It will actually lead them to do negative activities which can cause negativity to the society.

What are the challenges associated with the use of the Internet by students? ›

The drawbacks of the Internet usage are students' cheating, unreliable information, technical problems, and students' extracurricular activities during lessons.

How does the Internet affect students? ›

The internet has a vital impact on student academic outcomes as it helps students to access journals and articles which otherwise are not made available in the libraries. The study concluded that increase in internet use was very useful in the improvement of the learning outcomes.

What are the positive and negative impact of internet on students? ›

A significant proportion of the respondents said that the internet can positively enhance their academic performance and as well as improve their quality of life. On the other hand, results have shown that internet addiction has a negative impact on students' academic performance and social life.

How the use of internet is affecting our society? ›

It provides effective communication using emailing and instant messaging services to any part of the world. It improves business interactions and transactions, saving on vital time. Banking and shopping online have made life less complicated.

What are the effects of poor internet connection? ›

Reduced conversions, limited productivity, user frustration, and unreachable applications are 4 major disadvantages of a bad internet connection.

Do poor people have access to the Internet? ›

access in 2019.

People with higher incomes were more likely to have internet access in their households. As shown in Figure 1, 17 percent of people below 100 percent poverty lacked access to the internet. 2 For people at or above 400 percent poverty, only three percent lacked internet access.

How many people in poverty have access to the Internet? ›

1.4 billion people are living in internet poverty

There are nearly 1.4 billion persons (18 percent of the world population) who live in internet poverty, compared to 675 million living in extreme poverty.

How does poverty affect access to technology? ›

2 For people at or above 400 percent poverty, only 3 percent lack internet access. Likewise, people below 100 poverty are 29 percentage points less likely to have access to broadband than people at or above 400 percent poverty (55 percent compared to 85 percent). services such as satellite and dial-up connections.

What are the advantages of internet? ›

What are the advantages of the Internet?
  • Information, knowledge, and learning. ...
  • Connectivity, communication, and sharing. ...
  • Address, mapping, and contact information. ...
  • Banking, bills, and shopping. ...
  • Selling and making money. ...
  • Collaboration, work from home, and access to a global workforce. ...
  • Donations and funding. ...
  • Entertainment.
12 Jan 2019

Should students get limited access to the Internet Vedantu? ›

Students should have limited access to the internet since there are some items and sites on the internet that disclose pornography, which may impact their development, particularly their thinking. It will really lead them to engage in undesirable behaviours that will have a detrimental impact on society.

Why is it important to education? ›

Education provides stability in life, and it's something that no one can ever take away from you. By being well-educated and holding a college degree, you increase your chances for better career opportunities and open up new doors for yourself.

What are the challenges of online learning and how can you overcome those challenges? ›

How You Can Overcome These 5 Online Learning Challenges
  • Tech Knowledge in Online Learning. Online classes rely heavily on the use of technology. ...
  • Making Classroom Connections in Online Learning. ...
  • Online Learning Time Management. ...
  • Staying Motivated When Learning Online. ...
  • Writing in Online Programs.
6 Oct 2021

What are the biggest challenges facing online education today essay? ›

Let's take a look at the biggest challenges facing distance education today and review some specific tips for how to overcome them.
  • #1. Technical Issues.
  • #2. Lack of Motivation.
  • #3. Feelings of Isolation.
  • #4. Effective Time Management.
  • #5. Managing Distractions and Staying Focused.
30 Aug 2022

What are the problems faced by students during Covid 19? ›

Students have been affected psychologically by school closures, lack of equipment to participate in courses, being unable to access online materials from home and being unable to leave home for a long time (Apriyanti, 2020).

Does internet affect students academic performance? ›

Correlation between Internet Usage and Academic Performance

H3 Internet use has also been associated with negative effects on academic achievement. As shown in Table 3, the use of the internet was found to negatively correlate and the relationship is weak with the academic performance (r = -0.157).

How does technology affect students academic performance? ›

Increased implementation of technology will increase students' comprehension of content and development of skills in such areas as analytical reasoning, problem solving, information evaluation, and creative thinking.

What are the benefits of internet to students? ›

Benefits of the Internet for Students
  • Relevant Content Available on the Internet. ...
  • Connectivity and Communications Through Internet. ...
  • Online Education Through the Internet. ...
  • Internet Help in Searching. ...
  • Self-Study from the Internet. ...
  • Internet Saves Precious Time of the Students.
13 Jan 2022

How does internet addiction affect a students attitude and behavior towards accessing information? ›

Studies conducted on the students show that internet addiction has been accompanied by major problems such as the educational drop, reduced the curriculum study, anxiety, reduced interpersonal relationships, reduced physical activities, irregularity, and nutritional diseases (11-14).

What are the advantages and disadvantages of internet? ›

List Of Top 10+ Advantages And Disadvantages Of Internet
Top 10+ Advantages of the InternetTop 10+ Disadvantages of the Internet
Online Services, booking & Schedule & Job ApplyAddiction & Causes Distractions
Video Conferencing & Screen SharingPornographic and violent images
8 more rows
30 Mar 2021

Has the rise of the internet giving a positive or negative impact on education? ›

A clear majority of people in these emerging and developing countries see the internet as a positive influence on education. A median of 64% among the general population (including non-internet users) in the 32 emerging and developing nations surveyed say the internet is a good influence on education.

What is the importance of the internet in our daily life and in the world? ›

The internet helps us with facts and figures, information and knowledge for personal, social and economic development. There are many uses of the internet, however, the use of the internet in our daily life depends on individual requirements and goals.

What are the positive effects of Internet on youth? ›

Easy Access to Information

One of the most important positive effects of internet on a child is access to information easily. You can guide your children to discover their object of interest and provide them with a healthy environment to spend time efficiently.

Has the development of the internet and social media cause a change in the way we communicate? ›

Social media has changed the way we communicate, but also who we communicate with. It has given people the ability to communicate across geography, cultures, and languages creating an interconnected community.

What comments and suggestions can you offer to give solution to the internet connection problem? ›

1: Boost your signal
  • Go wired, not wi-fi: Use an Ethernet cable to connect directly to your router. ...
  • Update your browser: Not only is the latest version more secure, it may also improve speed.
  • Check your connection is private: Password protect your wi-fi to make sure no one nearby is using it without your knowledge.
13 Aug 2020

Is internet important for online classes? ›

The use of internet for education helps to streamline the sharing of information and communication. It lets students access lectures online and refer to relevant study material in various multimedia formats. It also helps teachers by letting them use various tools in their curriculum.

Does the more internet usage provide good academic grades? ›

(2004) concluded that there is no evidence for a relationship between increased educational use of Internet and Communication Technology (ICT) and students' performance.

Does internet access reduce poverty? ›

The Internet alleviates the poverty of residents by improving the access to employment opportunities, financial accessibility, medical accessibility, education accessibility, and personal development capabilities [16–19]. A study shows that among ICTs indicators, ITU has the greatest impact on all poverty indicators.

How much of the internet can we access? ›

That's 0.004%. This 0.004% of the internet is accessible to the public in the form of over 4.5 billion indexed websites. Which means that 99.996% of the internet is inaccessible without permissions and passwords and is not indexed by standard search engines. This 99.996% of data is called the deep web.

Why is there a digital divide between the rich people and the poor people in the society? ›

The digital divide – the gap in access to and use of technology and the internet – is both a cause and effect of poverty. The rich and educated are more likely to have access to digital resources, and those with limited online access options tend to be lower-income and non-white.

How does poor internet affect students? ›

There are many ways that a lack of internet access can affect a student's academic performance. Students without internet can't connect with teachers or classmates, do independent research, or get online homework help.

What is internet poverty? ›

It said, “Internet poverty is measured by how many people can or cannot afford a minimum package of mobile internet. “Moreover, it is based on three assumed pillars: affordability, quantity, and quality. Affordability, where up to 10 per cent of total individual spending is assumed.

What percentage of households have internet? ›

As of 2020, 85.5 percent of total U.S. households reported having some internet subscription.

Should students get limited access to the Internet Brainly? ›

Internet access should have limited access to students because there are some contents and sites in the internet which exposed pornography contents wherein it might affect their development especially how they think. It will actually lead them to do negative activities which can cause negativity to the society.

How does the digital divide affect low income students? ›

Many of the schools have switched to online learning, which means that children with no computers or smartphones cannot continue their studies. Therefore, it is evident that the digital divide increases the literacy gap between low-income and high-income communities.

What is the advantages of using technology? ›

easier, faster and more effective communication. better, more efficient manufacturing techniques. less wastage. more efficient stock management and ordering systems.

What is the advantage and disadvantage of internet for students? ›

The internet is great for communication and entertainment. This is excellent for getting a job and education online. The cons of the internet are its addictive nature. There is certain content which is not good for children.

How does internet affect our life advantages and disadvantages? ›

The Internet's drawbacks can't be overlooked any longer as numerous teenagers are affected by Internet Addiction Disorder, then many ladies became online shopaholics. Internet Addiction Disorder: Internet addiction is detrimental to not only fitness but also psychological state.

How internet affects our life? ›

It affects their development of attention span, memory skills, language acquisition, abilities for critical reasoning, reading, and learning abilities. Besides, using the internet also makes people lazy. For instance, a lot of people prefer playing internet supported mobile games than outdoor sports.

Why should students get limited access to the social media? ›

The reduction in internet use can lead to awareness among students and prevent the cheating problem. Cheating is not only about cheating in examinations but there are many cases where students are hacking the school websites and changing the grades and altering the student's information.

Should students get limited access to the Internet meaning? ›

Internet access should have limited access to students because there are some contents and sites in the internet which exposed pornography contents wherein it might affect their development especially how they think. It will actually lead them to do negative activities which can cause negativity to the society.

How does education affect the lives of people in society? ›

Those who get an education have higher incomes, have more opportunities in their lives, and tend to be healthier. Societies benefit as well. Societies with high rates of education completion have lower crime, better overall health, and civic involvement. Lack of access to education is considered the root of poverty.

How many students do not have internet at home? ›

Though about 12 million students in this country still lack any internet access at all—a problem cast into relief during the pandemic—there is good news: That number is steadily shrinking. Multiple studies and surveys have documented the ever-narrowing digital divide.

What percentage of schools in the US have Internet access? ›

Share of adults in the United States who use the internet in 2021, by educational background
CharacteristicShare of population
College graduate98%
Some college97%
High school or less86%
7 Jul 2022

What percentage of students use the Internet? ›

In 2019, some 95 percent of 3- to 18-year-olds had home internet access, according to the American Community Survey (ACS). Specifically, 88 percent had access through a computer,2 and 6 percent relied on a smartphone for home internet access.

What percentage of homework is online? ›

The Federal Communications Commission reports that about 65% of students used the internet at home to complete their homework and 70% of teachers assigned homework that required access to broadband.

What are the benefits of internet to students? ›

Benefits of the Internet for Students
  • Relevant Content Available on the Internet. ...
  • Connectivity and Communications Through Internet. ...
  • Online Education Through the Internet. ...
  • Internet Help in Searching. ...
  • Self-Study from the Internet. ...
  • Internet Saves Precious Time of the Students.
13 Jan 2022

How can we provide ensure students without internet can continue learning at home? ›

concrete examples whenever possible:
  1. ENSURE YOUR STUDENTS ARE SAFE FIRST.
  2. LEVERAGE THE COMMUNITY.
  3. GET CREATIVE WITH TECHNOLOGY.
  4. PRINT & DISTRIBUTE PAPER PACKETS.
  5. SUPPORT TEACHERS WITH THEIR.
  6. SUPPORT PARENTS WITH THEIR NEEDS.
  7. ENCOURAGE YOUR STUDENTS WITH.

What are the effects of poor internet connection? ›

Reduced conversions, limited productivity, user frustration, and unreachable applications are 4 major disadvantages of a bad internet connection.

What is the importance of Internet access at home? ›

Home internet is convenient in that it provides immediate access to information; the ability to manage bank accounts and finances; communicate with coworkers, friends, and family; the ability to obtain or enhance education; the ability to find and purchase goods not locally available; and access to the most current ...

What is the difference in percentage between the users preference in accessing the Internet using a smartphone and a laptop? ›

In 2018, 48 percent of respondents reported using their smartphones the most for browsing the internet. Laptops were the second most popular means of browsing the internet, with desktop computers achieving just nine percent.

Which do you think is a more effective approach face to face classes or the modular approach? ›

Face to face learning is a really effective way to learn knowledge and skills because it often combines different ways of learning including writing, reading, discussion, presentations, projects, group work, film clips, demonstration and practice.

What is internet use in education? ›

The use of internet for education helps to streamline the sharing of information and communication. It lets students access lectures online and refer to relevant study material in various multimedia formats. It also helps teachers by letting them use various tools in their curriculum.

How often do students use the Internet? ›

Nearly all students in their survey (97 percent) “reported accessing the Internet several times a day.” [13] Overall, students indicated they spent twice the time online (28 hours per week) using the Internet for “communicative purposes” than for “noncommunicative purposes” (14 hours per week) [14].

How many people use internet for education? ›

Internet accessibility at school

The most recent Pew Internet Project survey finds that 87% of all youth between the ages of 12 and 17 use the internet. That translates into about 21 million people. Of those 21 million online teens, 78% (or about 16 million students) say they use the internet at school.

What is the effect of modular distance learning to students? ›

The study revealed that the 2.25% decrease in the GWA of learners after the implementation of MDL denotes a significant difference in their academic performance. MDL strengthens family bonding, independent learning, and is cost-effective.

What percentage of students get stress from homework? ›

According to the survey data, 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress.

What percentage of students actually do their homework? ›

Year and selected characteristicPercent of students who do homework outside of schoolDistribution of students who do homework outside of school by how frequently they do homework
3 to 4 days per week
All students95.643.9
All elementary school students
(kindergarten through grade 8)96.246.5
32 more rows

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