The pandemic opened my eyes to lots of things (Tiger King, Amish Friendship Bread and ) but it also made me aware of the inequalities that exist in our education system, especially when it comes to technology and the Digital Divide.
I was very lucky to be able to comfortable work from home during the Pandemic. We had a good internet connection, and my school division provides me with a laptop. My children were also able to borrow a laptop from the school to complete their school work. At our school of 250ish students, we gave out almost a hundred chromebooks and our division supplied just under 10 hotspots for families unable to access internet. Not everyone in Saskatchewan was this lucky!
The Digital Divide is the term used to explain the gap between those who have access to communication and information technology and those who do not. Before the pandemic, I knew this existed but I didn’t really see a problem with it. If a kid can’t game or a parent can’t do online banking, it didn’t really seem to be an issue right? Wrong!
Here are four reasons why the Digital Divide (and closing it) is in fact a big deal:
- Closing the divide increases racial equity (Only 24% of Indigenous families have access to Internet)
- Increasing access supports kids in rural areas
- There is a connection between access and higher GPAs
- Kids need digital skills for the workforce
Information from Closing the Digital Divide to Help Kids Thrive
But where do we go from here? I always struggle with that. How do we fix this problem? Throughout my reading, I found out about how important raising this awareness is. This website gave a very kid friendly rundown on what the Digital Divide is. So that feels like a start…but what else can we do?
According to Common Sense Media and their report Connect All Students there are things we can try to bridge this gap. Schools need to start by understanding the needs of their students and families. The following questions are simple and non judgemental.
Things school divisions can do include offering sponsored internet service or lowering the amount of information families need to set up services in their homes. Making sure that families are set up with the approriate technology also helps to avoid frustration and increase comfort.