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Framing the Issue of the Digital Divide in Education

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Latino Immigrants and the Digital Divide

Reframing How Educators Approach
Latino Immigrants and Technology Use

A recent discussion from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center focused on the challenges of technology integration and use in Latino immigrant families.   It is not surprising that lower income families have less access to technology and home broadband.  When families have to choose between a cell phone and a broadband bill, it seems logical that the cell phone would almost always win out.  With that said, though, it is notable that Latino immigrant families are especially vulnerable when it comes to having access.  This lack of access has serious implications as schools across the country move to digital curriculum and learning management systems that require home access for a student's success.

Additionally, many Latino immigrant parents lack experience with technology and don't necessarily have a "culture of technology" in the household.  Immigrant Latino parents have less technology experience than other groups.  Only 40% feel confident in using the internet and 45% have been online for five years or less.  Amidst these statistics, though, there is emerging a positive trend:  Latino parents are making technology purchases for their children's education at an increasing rate.

Latino immigrant families are prioritizing the purchase of technology as it relates to their children.  Great income disparities hinder the drive for digital equity for students, and some subgroups like Latino immigrants tend to have less experience with technology.  With that said, the trend to try to purchase technology to aid in their children's education is definitely of note.  It has implications for programs and districts who are increasing technology purchases and implementation.  Harnessing the desire of Latino immigrant parents to integrate technology is a key to ensuring student growth and success.  When schools and parents work together to address nuanced issues relating to the digital divide, the chance for student success increases greatly.

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