While Teens Thrive, Teachers and Low-Income Schools Grapple with Tech Access

DIGITAL DIVIDE BY ANOTHER NAME: Two recent Pew reports released in as many months paint wildly different pictures of digital access and equity for U.S. students. A March survey on teen mobile device adoption revealed nearly 40% of teens carry a smartphone and 70% of teens have "occasional" internet access through phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. 

If these numbers are any indication, it would seem that ubiqutous internet access is right around the corner. But not so fast. 

In an earlier February survey on technology in the classroom and at home, only 18% of teachers believe "all or almost all of their students have access to the digital tools they need at home." Another 33% of teachers at low-income schools say restrictive cellphone rules have a "major impact on their teaching." And finally "75% of AP and NWP teachers say the internet and other digital tools have added new demands to their lives.'

Despite the best efforts to bring up the rear, the leading edge of technology at school and home appears to be expanding at a pace that even those privy to its advantages can't comprehend fast enough. Philly-based technology teacher, Mary Beth Hertz summarizes the issue succinctly on Edutopia:

"While access to the Internet has improved, the Divide has taken a new form, which has, in some ways, brought us right back to square one. Every new step toward equality is met with another step back that's based on access to devices and newly introduced technologies. We can no longer expect that ensuring Internet access for all will solve this issue. First, we must solve the deeper issues of inequity in our society."

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