Broadband Internet Access: A Double-Edged Sword for K-12 Education?

Posted: 3 May 2018 Last revised: 4 Mar 2019

See all articles by Yixing Chen

Yixing Chen

Mays Business School, Texas A&M University

Vikas Mittal

Rice University

Shrihari Sridhar

Texas A&M University - Department of Marketing

Date Written: April 14, 2018


Parents invest a considerable portion of their household income ensuring Internet connectivity to supplement their child’s K-12 education, and many are vocal advocates of increasing Internet access in their child’s public school. The underlying belief is that Internet access improves academic outcomes through increased information access and richness. Yet, comprehensive evidence that can provide useful guidance to parents, educators, and regulators is sparse. The authors study the impact of broadband Internet availability on two specific academic outcomes: academic achievement and school discipline. The authors use social cognitive theory (SCT) to develop the predictions and test them using a longitudinal dataset on broadband Internet availability and school performance metrics in 8,210 public schools in Texas between 2000 and 2014. Their empirical approach uses a range of identification strategies including an instrumental variable (IV) approach. Results show while a 10% increase in Internet access is associated with an improvement of average SAT scores by 0.8% (8.2 points), it also increases the number of disciplinary placements by 3.6% (amounting to a $12-30 million yearly cost increase). These effects are altered as school-level racial heterogeneity increases, such that the deleterious effect of expanding Internet access on school discipline is enhanced, while the positive effect of Internet access on academic achievement is attenuated. Parents and public school administrators could use these findings to better manage the academic consequences of Internet access for students.

Keywords: consumption of education, internet access, observational data, instrumental variable, SAT scores, school discipline, K-12 Education

Suggested Citation

Chen, Yixing and Mittal, Vikas and Sridhar, Shrihari, Broadband Internet Access: A Double-Edged Sword for K-12 Education? (April 14, 2018). Mays Business School Research Paper No. 3162837. Available at SSRN: or

Yixing Chen (Contact Author)

Mays Business School, Texas A&M University ( email )

College Station, TX
United States

Vikas Mittal

Rice University ( email )

6100 South Main Street
250 McNair
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

Shrihari Sridhar

Texas A&M University - Department of Marketing ( email )

430 Wehner
College Station, TX 77843-4218
United States


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