The digital divide

SLJ Technology Editor Kathy Ishizuka reports on “Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America,” a new study by Common Sense Media revealing an “app gap”: inequities in access to digital devices due to household income.

The question of app and ebook accessibility across economic classes came up several times in the Librarians and Digital Storytelling Twitter Party that Kitty and I e-attended last month. The Common Sense Media study highlights media usage within the household (by surveying parents), but librarians in our conversation pointed out a similar gap due to lack of library and school system funding for devices and apps and ebooks.

Some said that their libraries were able to provide ebooks for use on desktop computers, but not tablet-based apps since their budget could not accommodate purchasing devices. In a kind of BYO-iPad movement, many of the librarians bring their personal devices from home to share with young patrons. Others have devices, but no budget for content; they get around this problem by using only free apps or free previews (often called the “lite version”).

We can all agree that efforts to get books into the hands of disadvantaged children are worthy and important. Is it equally critical to close the app gap?


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Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, assistant editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College.


  1. Kelly Andrews (@kellyandrewsPA) says:

    Aren’t parents told to limit screen time for the kids? Doesn’t putting kids in front of apps work against that goal?

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