Imagine your neighbor has no electricity. No power for heat. No light for dark nights. No access to TV or other forms of information and entertainment. You’d worry for you neighbor and their kids, fully understanding just how terribly this lack of electricity was impacting their entire lives. In this day and age, you may never encounter a neighbor without electricity, but there’s a good chance you have many neighbors in your city or town whose home lacks a less visible, but very important service.
Though not as essential to modern life as electricity, the internet (particularly broadband internet) has steadily morphed from a luxury to a necessity, particularly for school-age children. Looking as far back as 2009, the FCC reported that 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires access to broadband internet. That number is almost certainly higher now, placing kids without home internet access at an extreme disadvantage. Not only do these children have to find a library or business with free internet to complete their homework every night, but they also lack important internet exposure that has become second nature to their peers. The longer they go without this access, the higher their risk of falling farther behind, making it more difficult to get good grades, get into college, and ultimately find a job in a very computerized marketplace.
According to findings from the Pew Research Center, of the 29 million homes with school-age children in the United States, 5 million lack access to broadband internet. Conservatively, that is an estimated 17 percent of children going through school with at least one hand tied behind their back. At Cox Communications, we want to change that. In 2012 we became the first internet provider to partner with Connect2Compete, a non-profit organization dedicated to making fast and affordable internet service available for less than $10 per month. We’re proud to have signed up 250,000 homes thus far.
It’s also why we’re excited to launch the Cox Digital Academy, a free online library that links to multiple educational resources for students, parents, educators and the entire community. Cox’s Digital Academy teaches the foundations of computer and internet use and provides a simple and accessible way for anyone to learn the basics without any hurdles.
A parent grappling with how to manage their children’s access to the internet can learn from a detailed article about parental controls. Students can access courses that teach different computer skills that their classmates may take for granted. Teachers can find intensive resources that will help with tasks like setting up a digital classroom that is accommodating for all of their students.
Though these classes and tutorials may seem basic to the average computer user, they weren’t created with the average user in mind. Cox Digital Academy is about ensuring that we do our part to help level the playing field. Our goal is to give students access to the tools they’ll need to excel at school and throughout the rest of their lives.
Of the 29 million homes with school-age children in the United States, 5 million lack access to broadband internet