As students start heading back to classrooms across the country, instead of pencils and paper, many children rely on laptops and the internet to do their work. According to a recent study, 96.5% of students need internet access to do their homework. That makes home internet access a vital tool for completing homework, staying in touch with teachers and even collaborating with classmates on group projects.
This reliance on the internet has given rise to a phenomenon called the “homework gap” among students who don’t have a reliable home internet source. That leaves students to come up with creative solutions, like doing their homework on computers at the public library or using free Wi-Fi from the parking lot outside a local fast food restaurant. Still, others won’t be able to do their work at all. The Hispanic Heritage Foundation recently reported that almost half of students couldn’t complete their homework because they didn’t have internet service or a computer. 42% of students say they got a lower grade on their homework due to a lack of internet access.
This disparity affects more minority children as well. A recent study showed home internet access was more prevalent for white (66%) and Asian (63%) children than for black (53%), Hispanic (52%) and American Indian/Alaska Native children (49%).
One group that’s working to bridge the digital divide is the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). The organization offers computers and internet access at its clubs, eliminating the obstacle of not having a way to complete online homework. What’s more, BGCA has partnered with Comcast NBCUniversal to develop the My.Future platform, a secure web space that provides members with fun, hands on, unique ways to improve their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) capabilities. Some of its offerings include computer science and media making, along with leadership, visual arts and lyricism. Students can earn badges and stars for successfully completing activities, which recognizes their accomplishments and fosters greater confidence in their abilities. And perhaps, through the My.Future platform, students may do more than just bridge the digital divide – they may discover a potential life-long passion and even lay the groundwork for a future STEM career.
*Article, photos and video courtesy of Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA)