Wednesday , 1 February 2023
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Thousands of low-income families unable to afford internet at home, Smith Family says

Jean Davis with son Shaun

Australia has one of the highest internet access rates in the world, but there are concerns children from disadvantaged backgrounds are being left behind in the digital revolution.

Key points:

  • One in three kids in poor communities lack essential tools for learning: Smith Family
  • Too many people isolated from digital world, according to academic Dr Scott Ewing
  • Queensland Teachers Union agrees student internet access a critical issue

While 83 per cent of the nation’s population has a home internet connection, that figure hides the extent of the digital divide, with a third of homes offline in disadvantaged communities.

Internet access is an unaffordable luxury for Jean Davis, who lives with her eight children at Logan, south of Brisbane.

She said this put them at a disadvantage as an increasing amount of her children’s school work was done online.

“It’s very detrimental, actually, because it’s just taken for granted that every family, every household has the internet access and not every household, every child does,” she said.

If it’s a choice of food or the internet then obviously food’s going to win.

Dr Scott Ewing, digital divide expert

“Just with the cost and with the affordability, it’s not in our budget to have that at the moment.”

Her eldest child Shaun, 18, just graduated from high school.

He is preparing to study teaching at university, where he will face the same challenges.

“It definitely makes things difficult. It’d be much more convenient to have wi-fi or internet broadband at home,” he said.

“That way I don’t have to constantly go back and forth between the library and home.”