This brief combines original research and policy analysis to examine a key issue that is often overlooked in debates about the proliferation of new technologies, education, and equity: the potential for digital media investments to support a promising learning pathway for children in our nation’s increasingly diverse, low-income families.
A growing body of evidence confirms that accelerated technological innovation and adoption rates have roiled family routines across the economic spectrum—and also, that the opportunities associated with these technologies have not been evenly distributed across the population. New technologies have contributed to new equity and “opportunity to learn” gaps between higher- and lower- income families, and their meaningful participation in a knowledge-based economy is further constrained by limited local efforts to support parents, educators and other community stakeholders in taking advantage of them.
In Connecting to Learn, Vikki Katz and Michael Levine propose an ecological approach to digital equity policy based on recent research with low-income, Hispanic families in the U.S. This brief reminds decision-makers of the importance of having an ecological understanding of the inextricable ties between learning and developmental influences at the family, community and macro-systems levels. Engaging this framework, the authors recommend solutions for building effective digital connections for all families—by leveraging low-income families’ strengths to support their meaningful digital participation.
The report was conducted with the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, and the Heising-Simons Foundation as part of the Families and Media Project.