Internet access is increasingly critical for adolescents with regard to obtaining health information and resources, participating in web-based health promotion, and communication with health practitioners . However, past work demonstrates that access is not uniform among youth in the U S., with lower access found among groups with higher health related needs. Population-level data yield important insights about access and internet use in the U.S. The aim of the study is to examine internet access and mode of access by social class and race, plus ethnicity among youths (aged 14 to 17) in the United States.
Using the Current Population Survey, I examined internet access, cellphone or smartphone access, and other modes that is hooked up to the internet for teens back in 2015 (unweighted N=6950; expanded weights N=17,103,547) and in 2017(unweighted N=6761; expanded weights N=17,379728). The results shows that internet access increased from 2015 to 2017, but socioeconomic status and racial and ethnic disparities remain. In 2017, the greatest disparities were found for youth in low-income households (no-home access=23%) and for black youth (no-home access =18%) and Hispanic youth (no-home access =14%).
In conclusion, without internet access, web-based dissemination of information, health promotion and health care will not reach a significant segment of youth. Currently, SES racial and ethnic disparities in access prolong health inequalities. Moreover, the economic impact of COVID-19 on African-Americans, Hispanics and low-income communities may lead to loses in access for youth that will further extend disparities.