This article discusses research into whether having the internet at home is good for children. It focuses around a study led by Linda Jackson, a Michigan State University psychologist. Jackson studied 140 city children as part of a study called HomeNetToo, which was set up to evaluate the effects of internet use on families with a low income (Packard, 2007). The children in the selected families were around 13 years old and were underachieving at school at the beginning of the study. Through providing each family with a free computer and internet access, recording the children’s internet use, and conducting regular interviews and surveys with the children, the researchers were able to conclude that the children who used the internet more improved on their standardized reading tests and grade point averages than children who used the internet less (Packard, 2007).
It is difficult to assess the reliability of this study. As with any research involving human beings, there are many factors that make drawing direct correlations problematic.
For example, the results of Jackson’s study show that of the children studied, the ones who used the internet more over the first six months improved their standardized reading scores more significantly that the children who used the internet less in the same period. On the one hand this could, as Jackson concludes, mean that using the internet regularly will improve a child’s reading skills. However, it is possible that the children who spent more hours on the internet were naturally more intelligent and motivated than the children who did not, making them more likely to improve their reading at a faster rate anyway. Moreover, it is possible that some of the children, knowing that they would have a second reading test, spent more time reading books prior to their test, in an effort to improve their score.
Packard, E. (7 November, 2007). It’s fun, but does it make you smarter? American
Psychological Association, Volume 38, No.10. Retrieved from