COVID-19 Update: Technology Proves "Game-Changer" for Black Urban Youth

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit inner-city urban kids disproportionately and has led K-12 educators and administrators to direct many elementary and secondary schools to remain closed indefinitely. To ensure children are not deprived of important knowledge, the classes and assessments have been switched to an online format, as the schools aim to remain viable and on schedule. However, America now tackles the issue of a group of students not having reliable access to the internet or computers at home, especially those from African American households.

In this article, we will discuss some key specifics regarding the digital divide plaguing Black children as they try to face the challenge of online classes and homework. We will conclude with an appeal that will benefit a non-profit organization, From Boys to Men Network Foundation, Inc., that has been at the forefront since 1995 to even the playing field. Consider the four monumental points contained herein:

  1. It has been found that most eighth-graders in America largely depend on the internet to successfully complete their homework. A study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2018, was assessed by Pew Research Center to reveal that about 58% of students, that is, 6 out of 10 students, have affirmed they use the internet almost daily to assist them with their homework. A meagre 6% of the respondents have claimed they never use the internet for assignment purposes. Needless to say, these trends varied based on the backgrounds of the students, and specifically their community type and their parents’ educational qualifications. For instance, among students attending schools in suburbs, about 65% stated they use the internet almost every day for completing their homework. Contrastingly, only 44% of school-goers from towns claimed the same thing. For students attending schools in cities and rural areas, the numbers were 58% and 50%, respectively. It was also found that students with parents who have attended and graduated from college, are more prone to using the internet at home while finishing up their assignments. It was found that among such students, 62% make use of the internet’s resources when they stumble across a challenge while completing their homework. Interestingly, only 53% of the students whose parents have some post high-school education use the internet at home at a similar frequency. For those whose parents have only a high school education or no high school education, the numbers plunge to 52% and 48%, respectively.
  1. Recently, the term “homework gap” is being used to indicate school-goers who lack adequate resources to complete their schoolwork at home. This gap has been observed to be more substantial in the case of Black, Hispanic and economically weak families. Pew Research Center analysis of 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data established that about 15% of Americans who have children who attend school were reported to not have high-speed internet connectivity at home. Understandably, children hailing from families with low incomes are less likely to have strong broadband connections at home. It was found that in households with an annual income of less than $30,000, where children between the ages of 6 and 17 live, about one-third lack good internet connectivity, which amounts to 35%, as opposed to the 6% in the case of households with more than $75,000 income per year. Again, these gaps are more pronounced when these low income households are from Black or Hispanic communities.
  1. Some children from low-income households have asserted they do not have access to resources required to complete schoolwork at home. In a survey conducted in 2018 by Center, it was noted that one in every five teenagers (about 17%) disclosed that several times they do not get to complete their homework since they either do not possess computers or a stable internet connection. It was found that Blacks and teens from low-income households have more commonly cited this reason for not finishing assignments. To further substantiate this idea, about a quarter of Black teens disclosed that, either frequently or sometimes, they find it impossible to complete their homework due to the lack of internet connection or a computer, as opposed to 13% of white teens and 17% of Hispanic teens. Similar to the previous aspect, teenagers who come from families with an income that is less than $30,000 per annum tackled this issue more (24%) than those with an income of minimum $75,000 every year (9%). The same survey also reported that about one in every ten teens (12%) frequently or sometimes use public Wi-Fi to complete their school-based assignments since they do not possess a stable internet connection. Black and lower-income teenagers are again more likely to resort to these measures. While one in five Black teens had to succumb to these measures (21%), only 11% of white teens and 9% of Hispanic teens also faced the same problem. While 21% of teens coming from households with an annual income of less than $30,000 per year had to use public Wi-Fi to complete their assignments, only 11% of teens living in households with an annual income ranging from $30,000-$74,999, and 7% of teens from households with over $75,000 per annum income reported the same problem.
  2. Among lower-income teenagers’ households, a quarter do not possess a computer. This problem can be observed in every one teenager among four who come from households that earn less than $30,000 per year. Only 4% of households earning more than $75,000 per year do not have a computer, according to the survey conducted in 2018. Variation based on race and ethnicity is observed here as well. Hispanic teenagers are less likely to not have a computer at home, with 18% stating this as a problem, as opposed to 9% of white teens and 11% of black teens.

As mentors representing From Boys To Men Network Foundation, Inc., we are requesting your assistance in order to purchase computer equipment for the purpose of facilitating the e-learning process brought about by the shelter-in-place demands facing deserving school-aged children. Many of our parents do not have the necessary computers, laptops, desktops etc. to facilitate this progression, so we are asking for your support. COVID-19 has devastated the demographic we represent, which has been exacerbated by the fact that technology is almost non-existent in the homes we service. We want to raise a minimum of $50,000 to assist over 30 needful families in our network.

Since 1995, the From Boys to Men Network Foundation, a type 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, has had a commitment to changing the lives of African-American males, particularly in the areas of urban America. As part of our efforts, we conduct programs that dissuade antisocial behavior among this demographic in communities, families, schools and other group settings by equipping the participants with valuable skills such as conflict resolution, peer mentoring, job readiness and offering them various support services, such as counseling, field trips, medical and dental assistance, etc. Please consider a donation to our GoFundme campaign. Your gift of any amount helps us to continue the effort to even the playing field and give these kids a chance at a better life!