How Variation in Internet Access, Digital Skills, and Media Use are Related to Rural Student Outcomes: GPA, SAT, and Educational Aspirations

Telematics and Informatics 63 (2021) 101666, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2021.101666

Quello Center Working Paper No. 03-21

15 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2021

See all articles by Keith N. Hampton

Keith N. Hampton

Michigan State University - Department of Media and Information

Craig T. Robertson

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Laleah Fernandez

Michigan State University - Quello Center

Inyoung Shin

Yale University

Johannes M. Bauer

Michigan State University - Department of Media and Information; Michigan State University - Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media

Date Written: August 3, 2021

Abstract

Some have pointed to divides in the availability of fixed home broadband Internet access as a contributor to rural students’ lower levels of educational attainment. Based on standardized exams (SAT Suite) and a survey of rural Michigan students in grades 8–11, we find that rural students with broadband home Internet access are more interested in school and leave homework incomplete less often. However, the relationship to classroom grades (GPA) is relatively trivial. Yet, we find that students who are not dependent on a cell phone for Internet access and those with higher digital skills, especially social media skills, rank considerably higher on the SAT. Rural students with broadband Internet access are able to participate in a more diverse array of online media activities, which supports building digital skills. Any negative relationship between time spent on social media, video games, other digital media and educational outcomes is outweighed by the benefit to digital skills. However, aspects of rural culture; including the emphasis on activities such as sports, as a path to postsecondary schooling and upward, social mobility; may be stunting the positive relationship between access, digital skills, and educational aspirations. Whereas extra-curricular sports have no direct relationship to SAT performance, students who spend more time on sports receive higher grades and have higher educational aspirations than those with more digital skills. We discuss the implications for rural students’ access to human capital and how the unequal relationship between digital skills and performance in the classroom and on the SAT may perpetuate inequalities.

Keywords: School interest, broadband, mobile, homework, sports, digital inequality, COVID-19, Excessive use

JEL Classification: I24, L82, L86, L96

Suggested Citation

Hampton, Keith N. and Robertson, Craig and Fernandez, Laleah and Shin, Inyoung and Bauer, Johannes M., How Variation in Internet Access, Digital Skills, and Media Use are Related to Rural Student Outcomes: GPA, SAT, and Educational Aspirations (August 3, 2021). Telematics and Informatics 63 (2021) 101666, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2021.101666, Quello Center Working Paper No. 03-21, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3898803

Keith N. Hampton (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - Department of Media and Information ( email )

406 Communication Arts Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States

Craig Robertson

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ( email )

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

Laleah Fernandez

Michigan State University - Quello Center ( email )

406 Communication Arts Building
404 Wilson Road
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States

Inyoung Shin

Yale University ( email )

Box 208285
New Haven, CT 06520-8285
United States

Johannes M. Bauer

Michigan State University - Department of Media and Information ( email )

404 Wilson Road
East Lansing, MI 48823
United States
517-432-8005 (Phone)
517-355-1292 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://quello.msu.edu/johannes-m-bauer/

Michigan State University - Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media ( email )

409 Communication Arts Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States
517-432-8005 (Phone)
517-355-1292 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://quello.msu.edu/johannes-m-bauer/

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