Study says Vermont near top in home computers for children By Anne Wallace Allen The Associated Press Wednesday, July 31, 2002 http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/bfpnews/news/2000h.htm -------------------------------------------------------- MONTPELIER -- About 60 percent of Vermont homes with children own a computer with access to the Internet, according to a report that ranked the states. Vermont came in third. "We definitely think that's a good thing," said Nicole Saginor, the associate executive director of Vermont Institutes, an organization being formed from the original Vermont Institute for Science, Math and Technology in Montpelier. "We live in a technological world," Saginor said. "We want them to be prepared to access whatever the rest of the world can access." "Connecting Kids to Technology," a report written for the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, ranked New Hampshire first in its listing of households with children ages 3 to 17 that have access to the Internet. New Hampshire had 69 percent; Alaska was next with 64 percent. Mississippi and the District of Columbia tied for last place on the list with 31 percent. Rhode Island came in fourth with 60 percent; Connecticut was seventh with 58 percent. Maine and Massachusetts, with 57 percent, tied for 10th place. Most of the differences among states can be explained by income and education, said Tony Wilhelm, a vice president at the Washington, D.C., Benton Foundation, who wrote the report. The study is based on figures collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Southern states, except for Florida, had the lowest ranking in the survey. "Economics is really the heart of the matter," Wilhelm said. "Families that have the disposable income to purchase computers and other information technology are going to be way up there." Studies have shown that education levels are linked to use of the Internet, he added. "The first people that are going to gravitate toward a certain service, an information service, are going to be people with high educational attainment," he said. While Utah, Colorado and Minnesota also ranked in the top 15 states, Wilhelm said people in smaller, more densely populated states tend to have an advantage in gaining Internet access because it is easier for communications companies to set up the infrastructure. "There's an economy of scale there," he said of Vermont. "It's not impossible for Verizon to wire the whole state, as opposed to Texas, where you're pulling wires over 100 miles." The report called on states to do more to make the Internet available to all children. It recommended that policymakers obtain more discounts on Internet service for community organizations and low-income families; that teachers receive more training in technology; and that all schools establish computer literacy training. Vermont still has a long way to go, said Sally Anderson, executive director of the Vermont Center for the Book in Chester, which promotes family literacy and professional development for teachers. "We may be third, but there are still 40 percent of the kids who don't have it," she said. "When they get to school, you have some kids who have looked at the Smithsonian Web site, or whatever they might have done with their families, and then some children who get to school with no understanding of the technology." Although she values the Internet, Anderson said she doesn't want it to take the place of books in children's lives. "'I'm a big believer in narrative; you have to get the whole story to understand the world. To me, the Internet is more sound bites," she said.