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Kids with home computers score lower marks

June 19th, 2010 SindhToday

Washington, June 19 (IANS) While education activists worldwide seek to bridge the “digital divide” by ensuring universal access to home computers, students are found to post lower scores once these technologies arrive aat home, says a study.

Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd, professors at the Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, analysed responses to computer-use questions included on North Carolina’s mandated End-of-Grade tests (EOGs).

Students reported how frequently they use a home computer for schoolwork, watch television or read for pleasure. The study was conducted between 2000 to 2005, a period when home computers and high-speed Internet access expanded dramatically.

By 2005, broadband access was available in almost every zip code in North Carolina, Vigdor said.

The sample size numbered more than 150,000 students. The data allowed researchers to compare the same student’s reading and math scores before and after acquiring a home computer. The negative effects on reading and math scores were “modest but significant,” they found.

“We cut off the study in 2005, so we weren’t getting into the Facebook and Twitter generation,” Vigdor said.

“The technology was much more primitive then. IM (instant messaging) software was popular and it’s been one thing after the other since then. Adults may think of computer technology as a productivity tool, but the average kid doesn’t share that perception,” he added.

Kids in the middle grades are mostly using computers to socialise and play games, Vigdor added.

Vigdor and Ladd concluded that home computers are put to more productive use in households where parental monitoring is more effective, said a Duke’s release.

In disadvantaged households, parents are less likely to monitor children’s computer use and guide children in using computers for educational purposes.

These findings were published online by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

-Indo-Asian News Service

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