Advancing Digital Equity among Immigrant-Origin Youth
While access to digital devices, the internet, and digital skills training has been uneven in the United States for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic magnified these disparities. More than ever, digital tools are central to performing daily tasks—from completing school assignments and applying for jobs, to reviewing personal health records, and making financial transactions.
Following the sudden shift to remote learning in 2020, many teenagers from low-income households, including immigrant ones, encountered this digital divide and other barriers to learning in the virtual context. For English Learner students, digital access and literacy challenges were often compounded by language barriers. These obstacles were reported to have led to knowledge gaps, lower grades, chronic absenteeism, and disenrollment. And even as schools resume in-person instruction, technology continues to be a fundamental part of the modern U.S. education system.
Given the important role of technology in education and immigrant families’ integration more broadly, this study identifies promising practices for increasing digital access and literacy among immigrant-origin youth—teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 who are immigrants themselves or have at least one immigrant parent. The report highlights insights from educators, staff of refugee resettlement agencies, community leaders, and library and IT professionals working to support immigrant-origin youth during a challenging period. It also recommends steps that federal, state, and local actors can take to advance digital equity.
2 The Digital Equity Framework
B. Access to Fast, Affordable, and Reliable Broadband
C. Digital Literacy Training
3 A Profile of Immigrant-Origin Youth in the United States
A. Ethnicity and Race
B. Digital Access and Education
C. Labor Force Participation and Income Status
4 The Federal Government’s Role in Advancing Digital Equity
A. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020
B. Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021
C. The American Rescue Plan
D. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021
5 Insights from Educators, Community Leaders, and Other Stakeholders