Head of the Class: Broadband Usage and 1:1 Program Participation Among American Students

Posted: 1 Apr 2014

Date Written: March 31, 2014


Even with the continuing increase in home broadband adoption, there remains in America a persistent Digital Divide for an estimated 34 million American households without broadband. This divide threatens not only the current generation, but future generations as well.

Several models have been proposed to improve broadband access for American students, from increasing broadband access at public computing centers to promoting 1:1 programs that provide tablet computers to students. As policymakers look to determine the most effective and economical means of connecting students to robust broadband service, it is important to determine how many students currently have access to broadband at home, whether there are student populations who are at greater risk for falling behind by not using broadband for schoolwork, and what options are available for students who may not have broadband at home.

To that end, this study uses data collected through 9,675 Random Digit Dial telephone interviews conducted by Connected Nation in 2013. Surveyors interviewed adult heads of households living in a heterogeneous selection of US states. As part of these surveys, surveyors asked respondents whether they had school-age children living with them and if so, whether and how those children accessed broadband service for their schoolwork. The survey also asked parents and guardians about whether their children’s schools participate in 1:1 programs that provide laptop or tablet computers to the students, and determined parents’ or guardians’ perceptions of the benefits arising from such programs. In addition, all respondents were asked a series of demographic questions to determine their age, gender, race, ethnicity, income, educational attainment, and disability status.

Using cross-tabulated survey results and regression analyses, the authors use data from these surveys to measure the impact of geographic and socioeconomic factors such as race, ethnicity, annual income, state and county of residence, as well as the age and educational attainment of the head of the household, on whether children in those households use broadband service at home, school, or at public computing centers such as libraries or community centers for their schoolwork. In addition, among households where students participate in 1:1 programs, this study examines how parents and guardians rate the impact of those 1:1 programs on the student’s academic success.

This study concludes that demographic factors impact the likelihood that a child uses broadband at school, at home, and at public computing centers. Even among households that subscribe to home broadband service, there are differences in the percentage of children who go online for their schoolwork. In addition, parents and guardians from demographic groups who have traditionally been less likely to subscribe to home broadband service (such as minorities and low-income households) are more likely to report that 1:1 programs have a positive impact on their child’s school performance. These findings suggest that different programs will benefit different communities, and there may not be a “one size fits all” approach to ensuring that every child has access to broadband service.

Keywords: Broadband, Students, 1:1 Programs

Suggested Citation

McGovern, Chris and Sun, Hongqiang and Walker, John, Head of the Class: Broadband Usage and 1:1 Program Participation Among American Students (March 31, 2014). 2014 TPRC Conference Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2418710

Chris McGovern (Contact Author)

Connected Nation Inc. ( email )

1020 College St
Bowling Green, KY 42101
United States

Hongqiang Sun

Independent ( email )

John Walker

Independent ( email )

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