Posts tagged with "Pew Research Center"

Digital Divide illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Digitally Disconnected

DIGITALLY DISCONNECTED

13 TIPS FOR HELPING BRIDGE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR CHILDREN DURING COVID-19

While social, racial, and economic disparities have always existed within the educational system, the COVID-19 pandemic is exasperating these inequities and widening gaps between students at a drastic rate. For families who can’t afford home computers, laptops, or high-speed internet access, remote learning is nearly impossible, and for students who already found themselves struggling before the pandemic, the prospect of more than a year of lost classroom time is a devastating blow. However, there are steps parents can take to shrink this digital divide, and there are resources available via schools, non-profits, and government initiatives that can help children access the technological tools they need to succeed. Indeed, Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, President and Founder of Children and Screens, notes that “the inclusion of 17.2 billion dollars for closing the ‘homework gap’ in the recently passed American Rescue Plan is a watershed moment for digital equity.”   
 
Several of the leading figures in the fields of public health, education, psychology, and parenting have weighed in with their suggestions on the best ways to combat the digital divide, and many will participate in an interdisciplinary conversation and Q&A hosted by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development on Wednesday, March 24, at 12pm ET via Zoom. Moderated by the Director of Internet and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center Lee Rainie, the panel will engage in an in-depth discussion about the digital divide and actionable steps we can all take to bridge the gap. RSVP here.
 
1. DON’T WAIT, ADVOCATE 

While schools across the country are doing everything they can to make sure that children have access to the technology and connectivity they need for remote learning, the unfortunate reality is that many families still lack adequate resources. If your family is among them, says author and MIT Assistant Professor of Digital Media Justin Reich, know that you’re not alone and that there are steps you can take to advocate for what your children need. “Start with your school staff,” Reich recommends. “They’re often overwhelmed during this challenging time but be polite and persistent. If you run into a dead-end with your school system, consider reaching out to school libraries and youth organizations like The Boys and Girls Club or the YMCA to see what kind of support they might be able to offer.”
 
2. SCALE DOWN 

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Professor Dr. Wayne Journell agrees, pointing out that sometimes, despite their best efforts, teachers and administrators may not always know which students are struggling with connectivity issues. “Let teachers know if you have slow internet at home,” says Journell. “Sometimes detailed graphics and animations that look cute but have little relevance to the actual lessons being delivered can cause problems for students with unreliable internet. If teachers are aware, then they can scale down the ‘frilly’ stuff and still get the important content across.”
 
3. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF  

While it’s important for parents to speak up on behalf of their children, RAND Senior Policy Researcher Julia Kaufman, Ph.D., highlights the importance of encouraging children to express their needs, as well. “If your child does not have access to technology at home and is falling behind, make sure your child’s teacher knows the obstacles they’re facing and ask what accommodations will make it easier for your child to do assignments offline,” says Rand. “At the same time, help your child feel comfortable expressing any technology concerns or confusion to their teachers, including cases where they have the technology but cannot use it well.”
 
4. CHECK YOUR ASSUMPTIONS 

One critical step that educators and policymakers can take in addressing the digital divide is to check their assumptions. They cannot – and should not – assume that students do or do not have access based solely on demographics such as family income level. “In addition, they cannot assume that providing access alone creates equity,” adds Dr. Beth Holland, a Partner at The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and Digital Equity Advisor to the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN). “This is a complex and nuanced challenge that needs both a technical and a human solution to ensure that students not only have access to sufficient high-speed internet and devices but also accessible systems and structures to support their learning.”

5. SURVEY AND MODIFY  

For teachers who are on the ground and in the classroom, checking your assumptions can be as simple as asking a few basic questions at the start of the term. “Survey students to determine the percentage of your population that doesn’t have home Internet access,” recommends former AAP President Dr. Colleen A. Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Once you know the divide, you can address it,” adding, “When planning 1:1 projects and choosing devices, for example, you can consider a device’s capacity for offline use. For those without Wi-Fi, a public library in the child’s neighborhood can also be an excellent resource.”

6. VOTE FOR CHANGE 

That parents and teachers need to worry about the digital divide at all is a failure on the part of our elected leaders, says Bates College Associate Professor of Education Mara Casey Tieken. “Contact your elected officials—local, state, and federal—and complain,” she suggests. “Write letters, call their offices, attend their legislative sessions, and make your voice heard. Join with other families whose children are impacted by this divide to amplify your message and use your vote to support lawmakers who understand the impacts of this divide, have a clear plan to address it and are willing to take action.”
 
7. MAKE BROADBAND A UTILITY  

Reich agrees, reminding those families who already have their needs met that they share in the responsibility to advocate for the less fortunate. “It’s our job as citizens to demand that we as a society give families and children the tools and resources that they need for remote learning now and in the future,” says Reich. “We need to advocate for a society where broadband is treated as a utility rather than a luxury good, and young people enrolled in schools and educational programs have access to computers for learning.”

8. CONCRETE INITIATIVES  

Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, advocates four concrete initiatives. “Establish a permanent broadband benefit, increase access to affordable computers, digital literacy and technical support, improve broadband mapping (including residential cost data), and support local and state digital inclusion planning.” By implementing these changes, Siefer says, policymakers can start to mitigate the digital divide. 

9. USE TECH FOR GOOD 

There are many reasons to consider equitable solutions along a “digital continuum” rather than the “digital divide;” a binary description leaves less room for nuanced and customized interventions. It may be imperative to fortify existing institutions, implement new governance structures and promulgate policies to confront disparities regarding working families. Antwuan Wallace, Managing Director at National Innovation Service, suggests that legislators consider a Safety and Thriving framework to increase family efficacy to support children with protective factors against the “homework gap” by utilizing technology to train critical skills for executive functioning, including planning, working memory, and prioritization. 
 
10. LEVEL THE FIELD 

Emma Garcia of the Economic Policy Institute emphasizes that guided technology education will be of great value after the pandemic. She says, “it will need be instituted as part of a very broad agenda that uses well-designed diagnostic tests to know where children are and what they need (in terms of knowledge, socioemotional development, and wellbeing), ensures the right number of highly credentialed professionals to teach and support students, and offers an array of targeted investments that will address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on children’s learning and development, especially for those who were most hit by the pandemic.”
 
11. APPLY FOR LIFELINE 

Research also shows that the digital divide disproportionately affects Latino, Black, and Native American students, with the expensive price of internet access serving as one of the main obstacles to families in these communities. “Eligible parents can apply for the Lifeline Program, which is a federal program that can reduce their monthly phone and internet cost,” suggests Greenlining Institute fellow Gissela Moya. “Parents can also ask their child’s school to support them by providing hotspots and computer devices to ensure their child has the tools they need to succeed.”
 
12. GET INVOLVED 

Learning remotely can be difficult for kids, even if they have access to all the technological tools they need. Research shows that parental encouragement is also an important aspect of learning for children, notes London School of Economics professor and author Sonia Livingstone. “Perhaps sit with them, and gently explain what’s required or work it out together.” She adds that working together is a great way that parents with fewer economic or digital resources can support their children. “And if you don’t know much about computers, your child can probably teach you something too!”
 
13. NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL 

When it comes to encouraging your children, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. “Reflect on the more nuanced ways your children learn and leverage accessible resources (digital and non-digital) to inspire their continued curiosity,” says University of Redlands Assistant Professor Nicol Howard. Leaning into your child’s strengths and interests will help them make the most of this challenging time.
 
While the move to remote learning may seem like an insurmountable obstacle for families that can’t afford reliable internet or dedicated devices for their kids, there are a variety of ways that parents can help connect their children with the tools they need. For those privileged enough to already have access to the necessary physical resources, it’s important to remember that emotional support is also an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to children’s educational success, especially during days as challenging as these. Lastly, it falls on all of us to use our time, energy, and voices to work towards a more just world where the educational playing field is level and all children have the same opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of their social, racial, or financial background.
 
About Children and Screens
Since its inception in 2013, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing and supporting interdisciplinary scientific research, enhancing human capital in the field, informing and educating the public, and advocating for sound public policy for child health and wellness. For more information, visit Children and Screens website or contact by email here.
 
The views and opinions that are expressed in this article belong to the experts to whom they are attributed, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, or its staff. 

gun violence image for 360 magazine by Kaelen Felix

Motherhood Does Not Drive Support For Gun Control

A recent study has found that moms are not more likely than other women to support gun control efforts. In fact, this new study finds that parenthood doesn’t have a substantial effect on the gun control views of men or women.

“Everybody ‘knows’ that moms are more politically liberal on gun control issues,” says Steven Greene, corresponding author of the study and a professor of political science at North Carolina State University. “We wanted to know if that’s actually true. And, as it turns out, it’s not true – which was surprising.”

To explore the impact of parenthood on people’s gun control views, the researchers drew on data collected by the Pew Center for Research in 2017 as part of Pew’s nationally representative American Trends Panel. The researchers then used statistical models to account for various confounding variables, such as political affiliation, allowing them to focus specifically on the effect that parenthood has on one’s beliefs regarding gun control.

The Pew surveys had examined a range of issues pertaining to gun control. Across the board, men were substantially more politically conservative than women on questions related to gun laws and regulations. In other words, men were more likely to favor fewer regulations and laxer legal requirements when it comes to guns.

On four of the gun control issues, parenthood had no statistical impact at all – meaning that the positions of moms were no different from the positions of women who weren’t parents, and the positions of dads were no different from the positions of men who weren’t parents. Those four issues pertained to: gun ownership, or how permissive gun ownership laws should be; home safety, or laws pertaining to how guns and ammunition are stored or secured in the home; teachers and guns, or whether school personnel should carry firearms; and whether stricter gun laws would reduce mass shootings.

However, parenthood did have a small – but statistically significant – impact on two other gun control issues.

Mothers were actually more politically conservative than other women on the issue of gun strictness – meaning that moms were slightly more likely to support less restrictive gun laws.

And fathers were more politically conservative than other men on the issue of gun prevalence – meaning they were slightly more likely to believe that more people should be allowed to own guns, and guns should be allowed in more places.

“When we talk about political movements and efforts to change laws, it’s important to have a clear, accurate sense of where people stand on the relevant issues,” Greene says. “Using the potent symbolism of motherhood in America in order advance a political agenda, in this case, is actually ignoring the fact that positions on gun control are virtually identical for women across the board. There is some minor variation, but even there, it actually suggests that mothers are less supportive of restrictive gun laws.

“To be clear, most women – including most moms – support more restrictive gun laws. But it’s not because they’re parents.” In conclusion, there is no true correlation between how adults feel about gun laws and if they are a parent.

The paper, “Do moms demand action on guns? Parenthood and gun policy attitudes,” appears in the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties. The paper was co-authored by Melissa Deckman, of Washington College; Laurel Elder, of Hartwick College; and Mary-Kate Lizotte, of Augusta University.

“Do moms demand action on guns? Parenthood and gun policy attitudes”

Authors: Steven Greene, North Carolina State University; Melissa Deckman, Washington College; Laurel Elder, Hartwick College; and Mary-Kate Lizotte, Augusta University

Published: Dec. 28, 2020, Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties

DOI: 10.1080/17457289.2020.1862130

Abstract: The idea that motherhood primes women to support stronger gun control policy permeates our contemporary politics. Motherhood shapes views on a variety of issues, but the question remains whether mothers hold distinctive views on gun control policies relative to their non-parent peers. We draw on 2017 Pew Research Center data to explore the ways gender, parenthood, and race intersect to shape attitudes on gun policy in the post-Sandy Hook era when gun violence has become prominently linked with schools and children, and during a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has drawn national attention to the relationship of gun violence and racial inequality. Most notably, we find that contemporary depictions of mothers as a distinctively pro-gun control constituency are largely inaccurate. The very real gender gap in gun policy attitudes appears to be falsely attributed to motherhood, rather than gender. We also find very little impact of parenthood for men. Finally, we generally fail to see much relationship between race, parenthood, and gun attitudes. Overall, despite common belief and media reporting to the contrary, the story is very much one where parenthood seems to play little role in gun policy attitudes.

Teen Pregnancy

By Cassandra Yany

Teen Pregnancy in the United States

In 2018, the birth rate among women aged 15 to 19 years in the United States was less than half of what it was in 2008, which was 41.5 births per 1,000 girls, as stated by the Pew Research Center.

In 2017, 194,377 babies were born to women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 19 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The birth rate dropped seven percent from 2016, with 18.8 babies born per 1,000 women in this age group. This was a record low for the nation.

The teen birth rate has been declining since the early 1990s, and this decline accelerated after the Great Recession. A 2011 Pew Research Center study connected the decrease in teen births to the economic downturn of the recession. The rate has continued to fall even after the economy’s recovery.

Evidence suggests that the declining birth rate is also partly due to more teens abstaining from sexual activity, and more who are sexually active using birth control than in previous years. Still, the CDC reports that U.S. teen pregnancy rate is substantially higher than other “western industrialized” nations.

DoSomething.org states that three out of 10 American girls will become pregnant at least once before the age of 20. About 25 percent of teen moms will have a second child within two years of their first baby.

Data shows that there are racial, ethnic and geographic disparities among teen pregnancies in the U.S. From 2016 to 2017, birth rates among 15 to 19-year-olds decreased 15 percent for non-Hispanic Asian teens, nine percent for Hispanic teens, eight percent for non-Hispanic white teens, six percent for non-Hispanic Black teens, and six percent for Native American teens. In 2017, the birth rate of Hispanic teens was 28.9 percent and of non-Hispanic black teens was 27.5 percent for non-Hispanic Black teens. These were both two times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white teens, which was 13.2 percent. Among the different racial and ehtnic groups, Native American teens had the highest rate of 32.9 percent.

From 2007 to 2015, the teen birth rate was lowest in urban communities with 18.9 percent, and highest in rural communities with 30.9 percent— as reported by the CDC. During the same years, the rate among teens in rural communities had only declined 37 percent in rural counties, while large urban counties saw a 50 percent decrease and medium and small counties saw a 44 percent decrease. State-specific birth rates from 2017 were lowest in Massachusetts (8.1 percent) and highest in Arkansas (32.8 percent).

Socioeconomic disparities also exist among teen pregnancy rates. Teens in child welfare systems are at higher risk of teen pregnancy and birth than other groups of teens. Those living in foster care are more than twice as likely to become pregnant than those not in foster care. This then leads to financial difficulties for these young families. More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager, and two-thirds of families started by a young mother are considered poor.  

Teen pregnancy and motherhood can have significant effects on a young woman’s education. According to DoSomething.org, parenthood is the leading reason for teen girls dropping out of school. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by the age of 22, while 90% of women who do not give birth during their teen years graduate from high school. Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30. 

Being a child of a teen mother can also have lasting effects on an individual. The children are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school. They are more likely to be incarcerated at some point in their lives and face unemployment as a young adult. They could also have more health problems and are more likely to become a parent as a teenager themselves. 

According to the CDC, teen fatherhood occurred at a rate of 10.4 births per 1,000 ranging from 15 to 19-years-old in 2015. Data indicates that these young men attend fewer years of school and are less likely to earn their high school diploma. 

A decline in teen pregnancy means an increase in U.S. public savings. According to the CDC, between 1991 and 2015, the teen birth rate dropped 64%, which led to $4.4 billion dollars in public savings for 2015 alone.

Global Teen Pregnancy

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 12 million girls 15 to 19-years-old and 777,000 girls under 15 give birth in “developing” regions each year. About 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 in these areas become pregnant.

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls age 15 to 19 years globally. An estimated 5.6 million abortions occur each year among 15 to 19-year-old girls, with 3.9 million of them being unsafe. This can lead to death or lasting health problems.

Additionally, teen moms face higher risk of eclampsia, puerperal endometriosis and systemic infections than 20 to 24-year-old women. Babies of these mothers face higher risk of lower birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal conditions.

Across the globe, adolescent pregnancies are more likely to take place in marginalized communities that are driven by poverty, and lack of education and employment opportunities. In many societies and cultures, girls get married and have children while they are teenagers. In some locations, girls choose to become pregnant due to limited educational and employment prospects. These societies either value motherhood and marriage, or union and childbearing may be the best option available to these young women. 

Teenage girls in some areas may not be able to avoid pregnancy because they do not have the knowledge of how to obtain contraceptive methods or how to use them. There are restrictive laws and policies regarding provision of contraception based on age or marital status that prevent these women from access to forms of pregnancy prevention. 

Health worker bias also exists in these areas, as well as an unwillingness to acknowledge adolescents’ sexual health needs. These individuals also may not be able to access contraception due to transportation and financial constraints. 

Another cause for unintended pregnancy around the work is sexual violence, with more than one-third of girls in some countries reporting that their first sexual experience was forced. After pregnancy, young women who became mothers before the age of 18 are more likely to experience violence in their marriage or partnership.

The University of Queensland in Australia conducted a study that found children who experience some type of neglect are seven times more likely than other victims of abuse to experience teen pregnancy. They drew these conclusions by looking at data from 8,000 women and children beginning in pregnancy and moving into early adulthood.

According to News Medical, researchers found that neglect was one of the most severe types of maltreatment when compared to emotional, sexual and physical abuse. The study defined child neglect as “not providing the child with necessary physical requirements (food, clothing or a safe place to sleep) and emotional requirements (comfort and emotional support) a child should receive, as determined by the Queensland Govt. Department of Child Safety.”

CBS reported that an increase in calls to Japan’s pregnancy hotline since March indicates that COVID-19 has caused an uptick in teenage pregnancies there. Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto, Japan said that calls from junior and senior high school students hit a 10-year high back in April. Pilcon, a Tokyo-based non-profit that runs school sex-ed programs, said that it was flooded with calls from concerned teens after they used home pregnancy tests or they missed periods.

Global Citizen stated that 152,000 Kenyan teen girls became pregnant during the country’s three-month lockdown, which was a 40 percent increase in their monthly average. Data from the International Rescue Committee shows that girls living in refugee camps were particularly affected, with 62 pregnancies reported at Kakuma Refugee Camp this past June compared to only eight in June 2019.

In an online press conference, Dr. Manisha Kumar, head of the Médecins Sans Frontières task force on safe abortion care, said, “During the pandemic, a lot of resurces got pulled away from a lot of routine services and care, and those services were redirected to coronavirus response.” The growing economic, hunger and health crises worldwide due to the pandemic makes this an especially challenging time for pregnant teens. 

Both Marie Stopes International and the United Nations Fund warned that the new focus on the coronavirus in the medical field would negatively affect reproductive health. This included disruptions to family planning services and restricted access to contraception, leading to more unintended pregnancies.

Preventing Teen Pregnancy

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Evidence Review has identified a variety of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. These include sexuality education programs, youth development programs, abstinence education programs, clinic-based programs and programs specifically designed for diverse populations and locations. 

Resources that focus on social health determinants in teen pregnancy prevention, specifically at the community level, play a crucial role in addressing the racial, ethnic and geographical disparities that exist in teen births. The CDC also supports several projects that educate, engage and involve young men in reproductive health. 

According to the CDC, research shows that teens who have conversations with their parents about sex, relationships, birth control and pregnancy tend to begin to have sex at a later age. When or if they do have sex, these teenagers are more likely to do so less often, use contraception, and have better communication with romantic partners.

A 2014 report by the Brooking Insitution’s Senior Fellow Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine of Wellesley College found that the MTV reality programs like “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” led to a 5.7 percent in teen births in the 18 months after the shows first aired. This number accounts for approximately one-third of the overall decline in teen births during that time period.

In locations where more teenagers watched MTV, they saw a larger decline in teen pregnancy after the introduction of the show. The show also led young adults to educate themselves more on birth control. Research showed that when an episode aired, there were large spikes the following day in the rate that people were conducting online searches for how to obtain contraceptives.

Contraception and Reproductive Rights

According to Power to Decide, contraception is a key factor in recent declines in teen pregnancy. Yet, over 19 million women eligible for publicly funded contraception don’t have access to the full range of birth control methods where they live.

Between 2011 and 2015, 81 percent of females and 84 percent of males between the ages of 15 and 19 who had sex reported using a contraceptive the first time. This number increased for females since 2002, when 74.5 percent used contraception. 

A sexually active teen who doesn’t use contraceptives has a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year. 

NPR reported that a challenge to the Affordable Care Act could reach the Supreme Court in the near future, which would significantly affect reproductive healthcare. This could make contraceptives unaffordable and unobtainable for some Americans, which would in turn affect the number of teenagers having unprotected sex.

Some also fear that the recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg will jeopardize women’s reproductive rights. If her replacement is opposed to abortion, it will most likely turn the court in favor of increasing restrictions on abortion, and could even go as far as to overturn Roe v. Wade. This would have the potential to increase the number of unsafe abortions among pregnant teens, or increase the number of teen births.

According to Kaiser Health News, there is a case waiting in the lower court that involves federal funding of Planned Parenthood in both the Medicaid and federal family programs. Ginsburg always sided with women on issues such as these, so her absence could mean a lack of access to education, family planning and contraceptives for teens.