Contextualizing connectivity: how internet connection type and parental factors influence technology use among lower-income children

Vikki S. Katz, Meghan Moran, Katherine Ognyanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This project links research on digital inequality, which focuses on connection quality and its outcomes for under-connected individuals, and parental mediation, which focuses on the influence of parents on children’s technology experiences. We examine the internet connection type used by families, the technology experiences of lower-income parents, and their perceptions of opportunities that technology use offers their children. We then determine how these factors influence the frequency and scope of their school-age children’s technology use. Findings show that contextualizing children’s connectivity to account for infrastructural, socio-demographic, and relational influences provides new insights into the technology experiences of lower-income children. One set of findings suggests that direct benefit from increased connectivity is most evident for lower-income parents – those with the lowest household incomes, lowest levels of education, and whose dominant language is not English. These effects remain after controlling for other socio-demographic factors. The second set of results shows that greater connectivity increases how frequently both children and parents use the internet, but is associated only with a greater scope of internet activities for parents. Parents’ online activity scope is important for their children’s online experiences, directly predicting the scope of their online activities. High-scope parents were also significantly more likely to see digital opportunities in their children’s internet use, which in turn also predicted more frequent and broader internet use by their children. We conclude by considering the practical implications of these findings for digital equity initiatives targeting lower-income families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInformation Communication and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Sep 22 2017

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parents
low income
Internet
experience
Education
demographic factors
household income
level of education
mediation
equity
research project
language
school

Keywords

  • children
  • digital divide
  • digital inclusion
  • Domestication of ICTs
  • families
  • parental mediation
  • young people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences

Cite this

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