ONE of the most important learning tools for students is broadband Internet at home. With it, students can tackle almost any assignment. Beyond benefits to education, the Internet offers a world of opportunity to the entire family, bringing quick and easy access to an endless variety of resources that make health care, job searches, saving money and staying in touch with friends or family as simple as the click of a mouse.
For instance, with the Internet at home, you have the ability to:
• Search and apply for jobs online—Whether writing a résumé, learning interview skills, networking or finding and applying for a job, the Internet can be crucial for the job search. Check out sites such as CareerBuilder.com, Indeed.com and LinkedIn.com.
• Access health care information—With the Internet, you can search for quality medical care nearby, read reviews of health care professionals, keep track of your insurance coverage and monitor your health progress on sites such as http://health.yahoo.net and WebMD.com.
• Find educational resources—Not only is the Internet a place to research and write homework assignments, it also offers students of any age the opportunity to explore everything from the GED test and colleges to getting student aid and finding a scholarship. Try CollegeSource.org, InfoPlease.com and CK12.org.
• Explore financial literacy and support—Getting a credit card, creating a budget, finding tax help, retirement planning or learning helpful tips on managing money—the Internet, and sites such as MyMoney.gov and Mint.com, can help you get a better understanding of it all.
• Stay connected—E-mail is a quick way to send and receive messages. You can also choose to get bills and bank statements electronically, instead of through the mail.
• Use social media—For most, social media is a way for family and friends to stay in touch. It’s also a way to find new recipes or learn parenting tips. Popular sites include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Skype.
Unfortunately, not everyone has broadband Internet service at home. Many low-income families struggle to afford it, while others simply don’t understand the benefits the Internet can provide. In fact, in many low-income neighborhoods, broadband adoption rates are only around 15 to 20 percent, while in upper income communities, broadband penetration rates are as high as 90 percent. With 30 percent of the U.S. still without broadband Internet service at home, far too many continue to miss out on all the terrific resources the Internet can deliver.
To help bridge this digital divide in America, programs such as Comcast’s Internet Essentials have been developed. Offering families with at least one child eligible for the National School Lunch Program in-home Internet for less than $10 a month; computers for less than $150; and free digital literacy training online, in print or in person, it’s the largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program in the country.
In less than two years, Internet Essentials has connected 220,000 families—approximately 900,000 low-income Americans—to the power of the Internet. Speeds for customers are now up to 5 Mbps downstream and up to 1 Mbps upstream. The enrollment process has also been streamlined with instant approval eligibility available to more schools.
To take advantage of this program, visit www.InternetEssentials.com or www.InternetBasico.com.
Additional resources, Internet safety information, how-to websites and instructional videos on how the Internet can benefit students and families can be found at http://learning.internetessentials.com. North American Precis Syndicate