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The digital divide in Canadian schools: factors affecting student access to and use of information technology


This paper provides a descriptive analysis of issues related to the access and use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) among Canadian youth. In particular, this research examines the extent to which inequities in the use and access of ICT exist among Canadian high school students, based on gender, socio-economic status and rural-urban location. Three datasets have been used to study this issue: the Canadian portion of the Second International Technology in Education Study (SITES), an international survey which measures schools' use of technological resources; the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS), which was conducted in conjunction with the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA); and Cycle 14 of the General Social Survey (GSS), which focusses specifically on issues related to ICT access and use.
The results of these analyses suggest that there is a 'digital divide' among Canadian youth, in terms of access to and experience with ICT. Rural youth are less likely to have access to computers in the home; however, frequency of use and perceived competency levels are not compromised by this trend. Female youth and those from families with low levels of parental education are also less likely to have access to computers in their homes. These groups tend to spend less time on the computer and report lower levels of computer skills competency.

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