Internet use helps raise students’ academic performance with no ill effects, according to researchers. The HomeNetToo Project at Michigan State University (MSU) has been studying Internet usage in low-income families since September 2000 in a project due to end in August 2003.
Researchers report that students in the study who use the Internet at home more than 30 minutes per day improve their grade point averages from an average of 2.0 to 2.2. Reading comprehension on standardized tests also improves. No change is found in math scores as a result of Internet use. Contrary to earlier reports, including a 1998 study by Carnegie Mellon University that found increased loneliness among Internet users, time spent online has not resulted in any negative effects on the children’s social or psychological well-being.
"HomeNetToo children who spent more time online using the Web performed better in school after one year than those who spent less time online. It appears that the text-based nature of most Web pages is causing children to read more, resulting in improvements in grade point averages and performance on standardized tests of reading achievement."
-- Linda Jackson, MSU Department of Psychology, HomeNetToo Project
AScribe, July 28, 2003
While the children in the study spend some of their online engaged in such activities as playing games and downloading music, they spend most of their time researching school projects or reading about hobbies and interests.
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For the project, HomeNetToo provided 90 low-income Lansing, Michigan families unfamiliar with Internet technology with computers, Internet connections and a brief how-to on their use. Study participants’ computer use was monitored, and technical support provided by the HomeNetToo Project.
The research pool included 120 adults (average age: 38) and 140 children (average age: 13) in mostly African-American families, half of which reported earning less than $15,000 per year.
To view Michigan State University’s HomeNetToo Project website, click here.
To view a Michigan State University’s press release on this project, click here.
To view a July 29, 2003 Arizona Republic article on this topic, click here.