My favorite feature of the upcoming 9th edition of the Pregnancy Guide recognizes
it is a digital world. You told us that you and your families need print materials since
few in your caseloads have computer access or devices to use digital information.
Other surveys confirm you’re right.
Poverty and the Digital Divide
In December 2010, 40% of US households, did not have a broadband connection in
the home. Lack of access is a marker of poverty. Mississippi is the poorest state
and has the highest proportion of households without access, 65%. Similar rates of
poverty and no-access are found in AR, TN, WV and OK. Compare to wealthy
states led by HI with 74% connected, only 26% with no-access. In cities, there is
commonly low access in the urban core suffering poverty while the wealthy suburbs
are fully wired.
Still, people find a way to get online
In a survey of over 2000 Mississippi households, 79% said someone in the home had
used the Internet. Outside locations included school, workplaces and the local
library. In some libraries, free internet service is the biggest draw into the building.
Among the reasons for having no access at home were cost and lack of equipment,
but the key reason seemed to be lack of understanding of the value of the Internet,
an aspect of low health literacy. Of those without access, 46% said they didn’t need
it or were not interested. Others, especially younger, less educated, low income
adults said they mostly go online using their smartphones.
Access in steadily increasing
A February 2011 survey found 68% of households with a connection, suggesting
significant growth in just a few months. Some of the most rural areas seem to be
improving quickly; but the South has shown only modest improvement. The Obama
administration has directed billions of economic stimulus dollars to increase Internet
access. And some companies have just begun offering low-cost broadband connection
to families with a child who qualifies for free school lunch.
Finding reliable information is part of health literacy
Any family expecting a baby has a need for information. Beginnings Pregnancy Guide
is intentionally focused on essential health behavior topics directly linked to pregnancy
outcomes. Some parents want to know more.
New Resources for Mothers coming to www.BeginningsGuides.com
For those who do have Internet access, and to motivate those who don’t to find a way,
the new 2014 edition of Beginnings Pregnancy Guide includes this icon to encourage
readers to visit the new Resources for Mothers pages of www.BeginningsGuides.com
The new section provides links to information and resources from reliable sources that
Beginnings Guides staff have reviewed and found easy to use. This reduces the need for
advanced searching and evaluation skills. We envision the new Resources for Mothers
as an easy entry into online self-directed learning about health and an opportunity for
parents to improve their health literacy.
Dunbar, J. (2012) Poverty Stretches the Digital Divide, the Center for Public Integrity.