Access to smart phones creating 'app gap' among children

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on November 25, 2011 at 10:45 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 13 at 2:21 AM

Call 14-year-old Taylor Johnson a digital native.

"I get my homework assignments on my iPhone," Johnson said. "I use my dictionary on my iPhone. Google comes in very handy when you're in school!"

Technology is easy for her. She grew up with it.

"Everything is on my phone," Johnson said. "My whole life. My journal. My diary. Everything."

But smart phones remain well out of reach for many children who are less fortunate. A study last month said those kids are in the "app gap."

The study, from Common Sense Media, said 55 percent of kids from higher-income homes have used smart phones, tablets and their apps. But only 22 percent of children from lower-incomes homes have.

Kevin Walker runs The Culture Lab, and has researched the topic.

"[Lower-income homes] don't have the phones with all the bells and whistles," Walker said. "Some of them may, but you'll find a large number who don't. That's really the story that hasn't been told."

Something as simple as apps, he says, teach children to be more resourceful, Solve problems and stay competitive.

"It help you to be a more productive citizen," Walker said. "You're more efficient in how you operate in your day-to-day life. The second thing is, it increases your awareness of the world around you."

Taylor agreed.

"If you don't have a smart phone, then you kind of are behind," she said.

That's what the study suggests.

But as technology gets cheaper, many like Walker expect that "app gap" to narrow.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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