When the Divide Isn’t Just Digital: How Technology-Enriched Afterschool Programs Help Immigrant Youth Find a Voice, a Place, and a Future

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Abstract:

The so-called “digital divide”–unequal access to information technology–is one of many social inequalities faced by individuals who are low-income, ethnic minorities, or immigrants. Surprisingly, the digital divide is even larger for young people than it is for adults, with African-American and Latino young people, as well as immigrants of almost any non-Asian ethnicity, having considerably less access to computers and the Internet in the home than do their white, Asian, or native counterparts (Fairlie, 2006). Because information technology (IT) is increasingly necessary to participate in critical aspects of society, such as education, the labor market, and government, limited access to IT can further disadvantage those who are already on the margin. Therefore, public places such as schools, libraries, and community centers have become important links to the cyberworld for disadvantaged young people. Community technology centers (CTCs) and other community centers not only offer computer and Internet access but also can provide a supportive environment in which young people can learn about different kinds of technology. This article describes how the authors studied six CTCs that work predominantly with immigrant populations serve immigrant youth in California. They focused on immigrant youth because they are increasing in number in California as well as throughout the entire U.S., because they are among the most disadvantaged youth in terms of financial resources and parents’ levels of formal education, and because they have the lowest levels of access to IT in the home and, therefore, the longest journey toward digital inclusion. They also focused on immigrant youth because the successful incorporation of such youth is one of the major challenges American institutions face in coming years. Therefore, institutions such as CTCs, which can provide support and mentoring in a holistic youth development framework, may be critical to the nation’s future.

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Citation:

London, R. A., Pastor Jr, M., & Rosner, R. (2008). When the Divide Isn’t Just Digital: How Technology-Enriched Afterschool Programs Help Immigrant Youth Find a Voice, a Place, and a Future. Afterschool Matters, 7, 1-11.

About This Study:

Intervention(s): Community technology centers
Intervention Duration: Varies
Relevant ORR Program: Children's Services, Ethnic Community Self-Help Program, Refugee School Impact Program, Unaccompanied Refugee Minors, Youth Mentoring
Study Type: Suggestive evidence
Full Text Availability: Free
Direction of Evidence: Positive impact
Strength of Evidence: Suggestive
Gender(s) of Participants: All
Age(s) of Participants: Adolescents and/or Youth
Region(s) of Origin of Participants: Multiple Regions

Relevant Evidence Summaries:

The evidence was reviewed and included in the following summaries: