Friday, November 10, 2006

Internet access alone raises test scores

Up to two thirds of UK households now have internet access. But does simple internet access raise academic achievement in chldren?

HomeNetToo research by Linda Jackson, a psychology professor at Michigan State University, gave internet access to 10-16 year olds in low-income households that had no previous access. They were free to use it as they wanted and the average turned out to be around 30 minutes per day.

The findings were consistent across both genders – the more time the children spent on the web the higher their academic achievement as measured by standard test scores.

The study concluded that the increased reading and comprehension led to increased literacy, which in turn led to improvements across the board (except in maths). Literacy has long been recognised as a predictor in other subjects.


Anonymous said...

Interesting study. I wonder whether access to the internet simply provides an opportunity for more self directed learning as well as content that is actually interesting for these kids. In other words, it's not the medium but that the medium provides access to a better variety and quality of learning content. I seem to remember a study done ages ago (I'll have to track down the details) that showed homes where parents were more educated and provided a variety of reading/educaational material such as encyclopedias,art, music etc. had kids who were more likely to do well at school and in std. tests.

Donald Clark said...

The largest study I've found is in the fabulous book - Freakonomics.

Levitt turned his attention to data from a huge Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (20,000 students), applied regression analysis, and uncovered some fascinating conclusions.

The things that DO NOT enhance your child’s educational attainment are:

1. Attending Head Start programmes
2. Reading to them every day
3. Taking them regularly to museums
4. Mother working between birth and kindergarden
5. Stopping them watching a lot television

I short, don’t worry if your kid has not attended a nursery, that you failed to read to them before bedtime, that you had no time to take them to museums, that you had kids when you were older or that they watch a lot of television. It makes no difference.

The things that DO seem to matter are:

1. Mother giving birth after age of 30
2. Educational attainment of parents
3. Having lots of books in the house
4. Adoption (negatively)
5. Low birth weight (negatively)