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Digital Divide – Parents do not feel empowered to help children online. How can we help?

Ari Howard

Aug 5, 2021 — 3 min read

The digital divide is about more than just access to internet.

Woman assisting child with online homework

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To most people, the digital divide refers to the divide between people who have a reliable internet connection and those who do not. It is also the gap between people who have access to devices to access the internet and those who do not. 

However, very few think of the digital divide as including people who understand how to use technology versus those who do not. We often assume everyone has a baseline knowledge of technology and the internet, but this is far from the truth. 

In reality, a major component of the digital divide that is not discussed enough has to do with students who do not have family members they can rely on for help when accessing the internet. This was revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic when even children who were given laptops and Wi-Fi access were still falling behind in school

Lakisha Young, a founder of Oakland REACH explained to CNN,

We don’t appreciate just how much of a steep curve that this is for families. We’re not having enough conversations about tech support, tech trainings, workshops, putting parents in a power position around technology.

Lakisha Young

The need for resources parents and other family members can access to help them and their children adjust to an increasingly digital world, therefore, is essential. 

Technological tips 

If you have children who have increasingly more school assignments that need to be completed online and you aren’t sure how best to support them, consider implementing some of these best practices in your home. 

  • Dedicate a space for your child to do their work: Provide a space for your child that is a good work environment. The computer needs to be on a level surface, which means laptops should not be used on your child’s lap. 
  • Help your child stick to a schedule: Make sure your child is following the schedule their teacher has set for meetings and has set aside time to complete homework assignments each day.
  • Help your child stay organized: At the beginning of the school year, help your child write in a calendar all of the due dates listed in their syllabus so they are able to plan ahead and manage their time as efficiently as possible. 
  • Reach out to your child’s school: Since the pandemic drove many schools to online learning, districts offer classes or some form of IT help to families.

Organizations helping get students and families connected

  • The Oakland REACH: Provides intensive tech support for families who may be trying to use internet tools for the first time. 
  • EveryoneOn: Helps connect low-income families with affordable internet plans and devices in their area, 
  • Devices for Students: Provides children all the tools they need to learn remotely. The organization purchases laptops and data hotspots and takes donations, then configures them with the necessary software for online learning and distributes them to students in need. 
  • Notebooks for Students: Helps students receive discounts on laptops from Apple, Lenovo, HP and Dell.

Free learning resources for families and caregivers

Academic resources 

  • Khan Academy: Offers educational videos for math, science, reading, social studies and even SAT prep. Videos available for pre-K to college level. 
  • Education.com: Activities and worksheets available for pre-k to 5th grade. 
  • PBS for Parents: Resources to help promote learning for children 2-8. 
  • BrainPop: Provide short animated videos to help further explain complex topics to kids in science, math, English, social studies, art, music, health and technology.
  • Learning Heroes: Helps provide information to parents on their child’s learning needs to help best support their children. 

Foster youth & homelessness resources 

  • Schoolhouse Connection: Offers tips for foster families to help support their foster children as students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • iFoster: Provides information and sometimes emergency assistance for California foster youth experiencing homelessness. 
  • Together We Rise: Helps foster and homeless youth pay for groceries, housing and utilities. 

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Illustration of a father and daughter in a living room. The father is sitting in an armchair and reading a newspaper, and the daughter is playing with a toy on the floor.
Ari Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team, focusing on broadband and wireless news, as well as broadband and TV provider deals. She recently graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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