Vikki Katz


Leveraging Technology in Low-Income and Immigrant Families

Broadband and digital technology are increasingly critical for accessing a broad range of resources and opportunities. For children, these can be avenues to digital literacy, enhanced formal learning in schools, and supports for informal learning anywhere. For low-income and immigrant parents, connectivity can provide access to local resources, services, employment opportunities, and more.

Tech Family

But how do low-income families decide whether to take advantage of programs that offer them reduced-cost broadband access, computers, or tablets? How are they integrated into existing family interactions? And what forms of formal and informal learning result from these activities—for parents as well as for children?

With generous funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I have been working to address these questions since 2013.

The first stage (in 2014) involved qualitative study of low-income, Mexican-origin families in three communities in Arizona, California, and Colorado. Stage 2 (in 2015) was a nationally representative survey of 1,191 lower-income parents of school-age children on these same issues, with questions that were directly informed by Stage 1 data. Visit the study website here.

We have also published a number of peer-reviewed articles from these data, in venues including American Behavioral ScientistInformation, Communication & SocietyJournal of Children and Media, Journal of Communication,  and New Media & Society.

My earlier work on this topic was generously supported by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop as part of the Families and Media Project.

I am also proud to be part of the Aprendiendo Juntos Council (AJC), a cross-sector group dedicated to identifying ways for tech to better support learning in U.S. Latino families.

You can read more about my research on children’s media brokering in immigrant families here.