Study says Vermont near top in home computers for children
By Anne Wallace Allen
The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 31, 2002


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

"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

"'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.