Today The New York Times introduced yet another inequality that distinguishes the have-nots from catching up to the haves: the "app gap." This "app gap" joins a bunch of other, kind of more serious gaps afflicting poor children. But, like hunger and healthcare, iPads have, too, given affluent children a leg up on their less fortunate peers, reports The New York Times's Tamar Lewin citing stats from a recent Common Sense Media study. "It found that almost half the families with incomes above $75,000 had downloaded apps specifically for their young children, compared with one in eight of the families earning less than $30,000," explains Lewin. "More than a third of those low-income parents said they did not know what an 'app' -- short for application -- was," she writes.While The Times laments this chilling iPad defect, here are some of the scarier gaps worth addressing first.
Some kids don't have iPads, you say. Well, others don't have breakfast. Poorer areas have less access to healthy foods or adequate grocery stores. (Check Michele Obama's food desert locator map, if you don't believe it.) Those with healthier eating habits do better in school, explains the National Education Association's Kevin Hart. "Low-income students given a free breakfast at school gained three percentile points on standardized tests and had improved attendance," found an Educational Testing Service study.
Those without access to proper healthcare also perform worse in school, studies have confirmed. And amazingly enough having health insurance is also linked to better health. Considering there are plenty of poor-uninsured children out there, this doesn't bode well for closing achievement gaps.
The app gap falls into this category, but it extends way beyond the bourgiest of toys. When electronics first come out, they're prohibitively expensive. They can also make learning better. While computer access in schools has improved over the years according to the U.S. Department of Education, access to the Internet isn't distributed equally. Internet access caters to affluent suburban folks, as Bits Blog points out. "In the United States, phone companies could have offered a faster tier of DSL service to urban apartment dwellers," they write. "But instead they chose to offer slower speeds that they could also offer in the suburbs, where most of the more affluent customers live." And while urban and suburban children have access to the fastest Internet, poorer rural areas are only very slowly catching up.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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