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Indicator 2: Prevalence of Internet Use at Home

In 2015, a higher percentage of children ages 3 to 18 used the Internet at home than in 2010 (61 vs. 58 percent). Higher percentages of children who were White (66 percent), of Two or more races (64 percent), and Asian (63 percent) used the Internet at home in 2015 than did Black (53 percent), Hispanic (52 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native children (49 percent).

Studies have shown that differences in internet access exist across students with different characteristics. For instance, households with members who are racial or ethnic minorities or have low levels of educational attainment or income are much less likely to have access to digital learning resources (DeBell and Chapman 2006; File and Ryan 2014; Horrigan and Duggan 2015). This indicator uses the Current Population Survey to examine the percentages of children ages 3 to 18 who used the Internet at home in 2015 by selected child and family characteristics, as well as changes from the percentages in 2010.1 The characteristics examined include children's sex, race/ethnicity, and age; highest level of education attained by either parent;2 and family income (in current dollars).


Figure 2.1. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by sex: 2010 and 2015

Figure 2.1. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by sex: 2010 and 2015

NOTE: Data exclude children living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities). Data for 2015 were collected in the July supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), while data for 2010 were collected in the October supplement. The July supplement consists solely of questions about computer and internet use. In contrast, the October supplement focuses on school enrollment, although it also includes questions about computer and internet use. Measurable differences in estimates across years could reflect actual changes in the population; however, differences could also reflect seasonal variations in data collection or differences between the content of the July and October supplements. Therefore, caution should be used when making year-to-year comparisons. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2010 and July 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 702.15.


In 2015, a higher percentage of children ages 3 to 18 used the Internet at home than in 2010 (61 vs. 58 percent). The percentages of male and female children who used the Internet at home were both higher in 2015 than in 2010 (61 vs. 57 percent for male children and 60 vs. 58 percent for female children); and, there were no measurable differences between the male and female percentages in 2010 and 2015.


Figure 2.2. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by race/ethnicity: 2010 and 2015

Figure 2.2. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by race/ethnicity: 2010 and 2015

NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data exclude children living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities). Data for 2015 were collected in the July supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), while data for 2010 were collected in the October supplement. The July supplement consists solely of questions about computer and internet use. In contrast, the October supplement focuses on school enrollment, although it also includes questions about computer and internet use. Measurable differences in estimates across years could reflect actual changes in the population; however, differences could also reflect seasonal variations in data collection or differences between the content of the July and October supplements. Therefore, caution should be used when making year-to-year comparisons.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2010 and July 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 702.15.


Higher percentages of children who were White (66 percent), of Two or more races (64 percent), and Asian (63 percent) used the Internet at home in 2015 than did Black (53 percent), Hispanic (52 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native children (49 percent). The percentage of Pacific Islander children (54 percent) was not measurably different from that of any other racial/ethnic group. While the percentage of White children using the Internet at home was higher than the percentages of Black and Hispanic children in 2010 as well, the percentage differences between White and Black children's home internet use and between White and Hispanic children's home internet use (i.e., the home internet use gaps) narrowed between 2010 and 2015. The White-Black gap narrowed from 19 percentage points in 2010 to 13 percentage points in 2015, and the White-Hispanic gap narrowed from 22 percentage points in 2010 to 14 percentage points in 2015. These changes were driven by higher percentages of Black and Hispanic children using the Internet at home in 2015 than in 2010 (53 vs. 46 percent for Black children and 52 vs. 44 percent for Hispanic children).


Figure 2.3. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by age: 2010 and 2015

Figure 2.3. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by age: 2010 and 2015

NOTE: Data exclude children living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities). Data for 2015 were collected in the July supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), while data for 2010 were collected in the October supplement. The July supplement consists solely of questions about computer and internet use. In contrast, the October supplement focuses on school enrollment, although it also includes questions about computer and internet use. Measurable differences in estimates across years could reflect actual changes in the population; however, differences could also reflect seasonal variations in data collection or differences between the content of the July and October supplements. Therefore, caution should be used when making year-to-year comparisons.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2010 and July 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 702.15.


The percentage of children who used the Internet at home was higher for older children than for younger children. In 2015, about 76 percent of children ages 15 to 18 and 65 percent of children ages 11 to 14 used the Internet at home, compared to 54 percent of children ages 5 to 10 and 39 percent of children ages 3 and 4. The percentage of children using the Internet at home was higher in 2015 than in 2010 for children ages 3 and 4 (39 vs. 19 percent) and 5 to 10 (54 vs. 49 percent); in contrast, the percentage was lower in 2015 than in 2010 for children ages 11 to 14 (65 v. 72 percent) and 15 to 18 (76 vs. 78 percent).


Figure 2.4. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by highest level of education attained by either parent: 2010 and 2015

Figure 2.4. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by highest level of education attained by either parent: 2010 and 2015

NOTE: Includes only children who resided with at least one of their parents (including an adoptive or stepparent). Data exclude children living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities). Data for 2015 were collected in the July supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), while data for 2010 were collected in the October supplement. The July supplement consists solely of questions about computer and internet use. In contrast, the October supplement focuses on school enrollment, although it also includes questions about computer and internet use. Measurable differences in estimates across years could reflect actual changes in the population; however, differences could also reflect seasonal variations in data collection or differences between the content of the July and October supplements. Therefore, caution should be used when making year-to-year comparisons.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2010 and July 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 702.15.


In general, the percentage of children using the Internet at home was higher for children whose parents attained higher levels of education. For instance, 71 percent of children whose parents had attained at least a bachelor's degree used the Internet at home in 2015, compared to 52 percent of children whose parents' highest education was a high school diploma or the equivalent and 42 percent of children whose parents had not completed high school. From 2010 to 2015, the home internet use gap between children whose parents had attained at least a bachelor's degree and children whose parents had not completed high school narrowed from 42 to 28 percentage points, and the gap between children whose parents had attained at least a bachelor's degree and children whose parents' highest education was a high school diploma or the equivalent narrowed from 24 to 19 percentage points. The percentage of children using the Internet at home was higher in 2015 than in 2010 for children whose parents' highest education was a high school diploma or the equivalent (52 vs. 47 percent) and for those whose parents had not completed high school (42 vs. 29 percent).


Figure 2.5. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by family income: 2010 and 2015

Figure 2.5. Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet at home, by family income: 2010 and 2015

NOTE: Family income shown in current dollars. Data for 2015 were collected in the July supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), while data for 2010 were collected in the October supplement. The July supplement consists solely of questions about computer and internet use. In contrast, the October supplement focuses on school enrollment, although it also includes questions about computer and internet use. Measurable differences in estimates across years could reflect actual changes in the population; however, differences could also reflect seasonal variations in data collection or differences between the content of the July and October supplements. Therefore, caution should be used when making year-to-year comparisons.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2010 and July 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 702.15.


The percentage of children using the Internet at home was also generally higher for children with higher family income. In 2015, about 72 percent of children with a family income of $100,000 or more and 70 percent of children with a family income between $75,000 and $99,999 used the Internet at home, whereas 40 percent of children with a family income between $10,000 and $19,999 and 39 percent of children with a family income of less than $10,000 did so. The percentage of children using the Internet at home was higher in 2015 than in 2010 for children with a family income of less than $10,000 (39 vs. 26 percent), but it was lower in 2015 than in 2010 for children with a family income of $100,000 or more (72 vs. 77 percent). As a result, the home internet use gap between children in these two groups narrowed from 51 percentage points in 2010 to 33 percentage points in 2015. Additionally, the gap between children with a family income between $75,000 and $99,999 and children with a family income of less than $10,000 narrowed from 43 percentage points in 2010 to 31 percentage points in 2015; and the gap between children with a family income of $100,000 or more and children with a family income between $10,000 and $19,999 was smaller in 2015 (32 percentage points) than in 2010 (37 percentage points).


1 Data for 2015 were collected in the July supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), while data for 2010 were collected in the October supplement. The July supplement consists solely of questions about computer and internet use. In contrast, the October supplement focuses on school enrollment, although it also includes questions about computer and internet use. Measurable differences in estimates across years could reflect actual changes in the population; however, differences could also reflect seasonal variations in data collection or differences between the content of the July and October supplements. Therefore, caution should be used when making year-to-year comparisons.
2 Highest education level of any parent residing with the child (including an adoptive or stepparent). Includes only children who resided with at least one of their parents.



Reference Tables

  • Table 2.1. (Digest table 702.15) Percentage of children ages 3 to 18 who use the Internet from home, by selected child and family characteristics: Selected years, 2010 through 2015