Children falling behind at school as slow broadband affects homework

Children are falling behind.
Children are falling behind.
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More than 1.2 million children could be falling behind at school because of slow internet speeds at home, a report has claimed.

More than 1.2 million children could be falling behind at school because of slow internet speeds at home, a report has claimed.

An increasing amount of homework is being set that relies on a decent home broadband connection, with 69 per cent of parents agreeing that the internet is now “essential” to their child’s education.

More than one in three parents report that their child has experienced internet problems when attempting to complete their homework, according to research by uSwitch.com, while 15 per cent believe internet problems at home are directly responsible for their child falling behind at school.

Yet, despite regulator Ofcom finding that homes in rural areas are the most likely to be without decent broadband connections, parents in towns and cities are five times more likely to blame internet problems for potentially harming their child’s education.

A quarter of parents surveyed said they believe their child’s ability to do homework is being affected by the internet slowdown at peak times in the evening. Ofcom has previously found people using the internet at peak times get half the speed they’re promised.

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com, said: “For some time now, teachers have been warning of a nationwide risk that children could fall behind if broadband speeds are not up to par. Our data shows that for some 36 per cent of parents, they believe this has already impacted their child’s ability to study at home.”

Some 40 per cent of parents said their child uses YouTube, which offers educational content including the Crash Course channel, 38 per cent said they use Wikipedia and 32 per cent turn onto BBC Bitesize. Laptops are the most common devices used for doing homework, with parents also reporting the use of tablets, mobile phones, games consoles and smart TVs.

Last year, the Scottish Government pledged to roll out superfast broadband across the country within the next four years, while the UK government said homes and businesses across the UK will have a legal right to demand high-speed broadband by 2020.

Independent information site Thinkbroadband said Scotland is at 93.1 per cent coverage when it comes to superfast speeds of more than 24 megabits per second.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman, said: “Clearly, the lack of broadband coverage in Scotland is having a detrimental impact on the ability of some children to complete homework, as well as all the other issues its absence creates for families and businesses.”