Closing the Digital Divide
Bridging the gap
A new survey by National 4-H Council, the Harris Poll and the 4-H Tech Changemakers coalition found that teens believe unreliable broadband access contributes to economic and social inequities, perceptions of reduced career prospects, significantly lower digital literacy and less confidence in their future success.
See How the Digital Divide Affects the Nation's Youth
Teens reveal the drastic impact that slow internet speeds have on opportunities for success in their classes, careers and communities and urge the government to pick up the pace toward universal broadband access.
- 73% of teens agree that “Digital skills will be the key to getting the best jobs for my generation.”
- 1 in 10 American teens do not have access to broadband internet (1 in 6 in rural communities).
- Broadband access dropped 7% at both homes and schools since 2019.
Direct impact on teens
- Only 37% of teens with an unreliable connection feel that high-quality, K-12 education is within reach for their community.
- Only 38% of teens with unreliable connections feel their community has access to a wide variety of job opportunities.
- 89% of teens say their need for high-speed Internet access at home has increased or stayed the same in the last 18 months.
Long term impacts
- Ultimately, teens see broadband availability as a barrier to staying in their community long term (25% unreliable internet, 14% reliable internet).
- Confidence to succeed in life is down 9% since 2019 (down 12% for those with unreliable internet).
Closing the gap
These findings show the profound impact reliable broadband access and digital literacy can have on the lives and futures of American teens and their communities. 4-H Tech Changemakers is National 4-H Council’s initiative to help close the digital divide, with a focus on Black, Brown, and rural communities, made possible by support from Land O’Lakes, Microsoft, Verizon, and Tractor Supply along with 20 Land Grant University partners.
Through the 4-H Tech Changemakers program, teens are empowering their communities through digital literacy training by reaching an estimated 50,000 adults across 18 states in 2021.
Digital literacy and access to reliable broadband are some of the most significant barriers many communities face in working toward educational and economic advancement.
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