Papadakis, Maria C. "The Application and Implications of Information Technologies in the Home: Where Are the Data and What Do They Say?" Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, 2001.

This report is a summation of a metastudy done by the National Science Foundation's Division of Science Resources Studies and SRI International's Science and Technology Policy Program to develop a consolidated information base on the role of information technologies (IT) in the home for use by NSF, SRS, and the larger research and policy communities. Their survey of the available research did uncover a number of potentially negative issues and effects.

Although PCs have been diffusing rapidly in recent years, rates of adoption are still much lower in poor and minority households compared to affluent and white homes. The research for both PC and Internet adoption indicates that socioeconomic factors (such as income, level of education, and marital status) and demographic factors (such as age, sex, and ethnicity) continue to be the primary predictors of home IT access. Very simply, income allows families to hurdle affordability barriers to adoption, and well-educated individuals are more likely to be aware of and appreciate the ways IT can be used in the home.

Racial/ethnic disparities in home access to IT typically cannot be explained by income or level of education alone. There are deeper cultural and social factors influencing the adoption process, but these factors have not been empirically identified or isolated.

Research on the actual impacts of IT on home, family, and individual household members is extremely limited in scale and scope, but a general theme of the impact research is the dual nature of home IT—it can be both beneficial and harmful. With respect to psychological well-being, there is mixed evidence regarding the impact of computing on individuals. Some data suggest that increasing Internet use is associated with social isolation, withdrawal, and stress—although Internet "addiction" may be limited to about 10 percent of Internet users and isn't necessarily associated with how much time an individual spends on the "Net." Evidence is found for both positive and negative behaviors associated with the use of video games, but also for neutral outcomes. For example, video game playing does not necessarily make children less sociable, and these games appear to be more intellectually challenging and stimulating than television on several key empirical measures of both affect and stimulation. Of cause for concern is the strong preference of boys for more aggressive video games, and for these preferences to be associated with more aggressive behavior and reduced sociability.

The report also spends significant space discussing the problems related to the availability of data needed to conduct fruitful research. The author cites that there is a lack of data collection on the actual impacts of computer and Internet use on homes, families, and individual household members. There is also not enough detailed data collection on routines uses of home computing. According to the author, few of the data sources meet the standards demanded for scholarly analysis, because of methodological problems with the data collection. As a result, the author contends, many important research questions cannot even begin to be answered.

The author gives several examples of such questions.

The author states that there is an implicit assumption that a lack of access to technology in the home will perpetuate already problematic socioeconomic disadvantages. But, without better data and its associated research, we cannot determine whether or not that is true. "It is cliché to call for more surveys, more data collection, and more research. However, it is also clear that the data needed to answer fundamental questions about the impact of IT on the home are lacking. We simply do not know whether the presence of these technologies in the home 'makes a difference,' how, and whether it is worth the costs."

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