In an age in which online resources have become essential to education and enrichment year-round, kids with insufficient home Internet access during the summer are at risk of lagging farther behind their well-connected peers with each passing year. In response, mobile hotspot Internet for schools and summer camps is in demand, and many public libraries are adding library hotspot lending programs to help youth explore and pursue their interests online throughout the summer months.
The Role of Digital Equity in Summer Learning
For school-age children, summer is a time of summer camps, summer school programs, sports, and other enrichment opportunities. Summer learning programs not only help students retain the information they already learned during the school year, but they stimulate young minds to develop their own interests and distinctive identities.
Without summer learning activities, students regress. They may even return to school in the fall at lower academic levels than when they left. On the other hand, students who can take advantage of summer enrichment will continue to develop their language and reading skills all summer long. The disparity between those who can take advantage of summer learning and those who can’t is one of the culprits behind the “achievement gap”, a gap that grows wider summer after summer.
A study conducted by RAND Education found that “students in low-income neighborhoods and schools experience larger learning losses over the summer relative to peers in wealthier neighborhoods or schools, and low-income students have fewer opportunities for enriching non-academic experiences relative to their more-affluent peers.”
As important as summer experiences may be, finding and participating in enrichment activities outside of school can be a challenge for socioeconomically challenged youth. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one, in particular, is gaining importance: lack of quality mobile hotspot Internet access. When it comes to completing online summer assignments, playing educational Internet games, registering for summer activities and resources, or even completing college applications, equitable high-speed connectivity is crucial.
According to CoSN Home Internet Connectivity Findings published in July 2022, “Socioeconomically disadvantaged students are still twice as likely to lag behind their counterparts in access. Over 1 in 4 socioeconomically disadvantaged students were below guideline for connectivity outside of school hours.” In another important statistic from EdSurge, students of color account for 54% of disconnected students but only 40% of the total student population.
How Mobile Hotspot Internet Lending Programs Improve Summer Enrichment
Libraries have become the digital equity hubs of their communities, so it’s no surprise that public libraries are adding library hotspots to their list of checkout materials. Schools and camps can do the same.
Hotspots for schools expand learning opportunities for summer school programs and other student enrichment activities outside of the classroom. Many schools already have mobile hotspot Internet devices for students, and there’s no reason to let them get dusty over the summer. For summer camp programs, WiFi hotspots keep program leaders connected while they’re out in the field and help keep youth connected to online camp resources from home.
Why mobile hotspot Internet devices? Much like a library book, mobile hotspot devices are portable. They provide high-speed Internet connectivity wherever it’s needed – at home, a neighbor’s house, at the park, or anywhere else a student happens to be. Mobile hotspot devices level the playing field by providing low-income students with the same access to technology and educational resources as higher-income students have.
The Muskingum County Library System in Ohio offers a good example of hotspot lending at work. With over 100 WiFi hotspot devices from Mobile Citizen in circulation, the library is providing rural and low-income families easy access to free and reliable Internet from home. In fact, the library is doing everything it can to make the Internet accessible for all, including pushing the building’s WiFi out to the edges of the parking lot so families can use the Internet from nearby park benches after hours.
Make it a Good Summer for All
In late 2022, the Urban Libraries Council issued an important call to action on equity in summer learning stating, “As an integral part of the educational ecosystem, public libraries’ summer learning programs play a crucial role in equitably reaching all children through intentional, systemic and transformative library-school-community partnerships.”
Hotspot lending programs can help bridge the digital divide for millions of students who still don’t have access to reliable Internet service during the summer. Mobile Citizen supports hotspots for schools, summer camps, and libraries with affordable mobile hotspot Internet devices and unlimited high-speed data plans for as low as $10 per month.
A nationwide supplier of high-speed 5G and 4G LTE mobile Internet service on the T-Mobile network, we partner exclusively with schools, libraries, social welfare agencies, and nonprofits to advance digital equity and inclusion. To explore opportunities for your organization, please contact our experts in the Mobile Citizen Customer Service Center at 877-216-9603 or visit our Get Started page.