The COVID-19 pandemic has caused various parts of our society to move online and in turn served to further amplify the digital divide in that lacking reliable broadband connectivity can have a larger impact now more than ever before. As so many facets of the world have continued to shift into the digital world in recent years, members of our society without access to high-quality internet connectivity are prevented from being able to fully participate in this new world. The arrival of COVID-19 magnified this problem since so many services and social activities have moved online. We explored the impact of not having reliable high-speed home Internet connectivity on families in Baltimore City, with a specific focus on the impact on educational, employment, social activities, and health. We conducted pilot interviews with community participants, stakeholders working to alleviate this issue by setting up community Internet connectivity resources, and informal educators working in this space. To date, we have found that participants value connectivity and also see the importance of developing reputable, safe, and inclusive resources to ease a move online for families who are just receiving broadband Internet.
This work was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation.