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Challenges for the future of educational media
Unformatted Document Text:  Future challenges 5 (SES), as compared to the concomitant lack of access among minorities and lower-SES populations (e.g., Cakim, 1999; National Center for Educational Statistics, 1998). Researchers such as Wright (2001) have argued that educational media may have their greatest positive impact among poor and minority children, whose environments typically do not provide the same range of enrichments as those of higher-SES children. Ironically, however, the disproportionate lack of hardware among these populations may serve to widen the educational gap between demographic groups instead. Concerns over such issues have led to a variety of governmental and private programs aimed at placing computers and internet access in schools and libraries that serve low-SES and minority populations. Indeed, these efforts seem to have begun to bear fruit; as noted above, data from the U.S. Census indicate that nearly 90 percent of 6- to 17-year-olds had used computers at either home or school in the year 2000. At first glance, then, one might imagine that the problem has been greatly mitigated, if not completely solved. However, this is by no means the case; the same Census Bureau data also showed the digital divide to be far from fully bridged. Home access to computers continued to be much more prevalent among Whites (77 percent) than among either African-Americans (43 percent) or Latinos (37 percent). Even more pronounced differences were found as a function of SES: 94 percent of school-age children in households with incomes of $75,000 or more had access to computers at home, as opposed to only 35 percent of those with family incomes below $25,000 (Newburger, 2001). Moreover, even in the context of school, where access was found to be more widely available, the high rates of school access among underserved populations must be interpreted with caution. The Census Bureau data did not reflect the number of computers present within each

Authors: Fisch, Shalom.
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Future challenges 5
(SES), as compared to the concomitant lack of access among minorities and lower-SES populations
(e.g., Cakim, 1999; National Center for Educational Statistics, 1998). Researchers such as Wright
(2001) have argued that educational media may have their greatest positive impact among poor and
minority children, whose environments typically do not provide the same range of enrichments as
those of higher-SES children. Ironically, however, the disproportionate lack of hardware among
these populations may serve to widen the educational gap between demographic groups instead.
Concerns over such issues have led to a variety of governmental and private programs
aimed at placing computers and internet access in schools and libraries that serve low-SES and
minority populations. Indeed, these efforts seem to have begun to bear fruit; as noted above, data
from the U.S. Census indicate that nearly 90 percent of 6- to 17-year-olds had used computers at
either home or school in the year 2000.
At first glance, then, one might imagine that the problem has been greatly mitigated, if not
completely solved. However, this is by no means the case; the same Census Bureau data also
showed the digital divide to be far from fully bridged. Home access to computers continued to be
much more prevalent among Whites (77 percent) than among either African-Americans (43
percent) or Latinos (37 percent). Even more pronounced differences were found as a function of
SES: 94 percent of school-age children in households with incomes of $75,000 or more had access
to computers at home, as opposed to only 35 percent of those with family incomes below $25,000
(Newburger, 2001).
Moreover, even in the context of school, where access was found to be more widely
available, the high rates of school access among underserved populations must be interpreted with
caution. The Census Bureau data did not reflect the number of computers present within each


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