- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2001

Nearly 90 percent of America's school-age children had access to computers as of August 2000, and more than 50 percent of U.S. households had at least one computer, a Census Bureau report shows.
"Since 1984, the country has experienced more than a fivefold increase in the proportion of households with computers," said Census Bureau analyst Eric Newburger, author of the report released today on home computers and Internet use.
In December 1998, the bureau found, 42 percent of U.S. households had at least one computer in the home. By August 2000 less than two years later the percent of computer-friendly households jumped to 51 percent, or 54 million households, said Mr. Newburger.
"In addition, Internet use is rapidly becoming synonymous with computer availability," he said.
In 2000, 44 million households, 42 percent, had at least one person who knew how to use the Internet. This is "more than double" than the portion of Internet households in 1997, the first year the bureau began collecting data on Internet use, Mr. Newburger said.
Among Internet home users, e-mail was the most popular activity, used by 73 percent of children and 88 percent of adults. The next most popular Internet activities were school research and online courses for children and information searches for adults.
The August 2000 data, which were collected from about 50,000 U.S. households in the Current Population Survey, called schools "a major influence" on children's access to computers. Nearly 57 percent of children ages 6 to 17 had access to computers at school and at home, it said. However, schools brought computers to another 22.8 percent of children, expanding the number of school-age children with computer access to nearly 80 percent.
Another 10 percent of children had computer access only at home, while 10.4 percent of children had no access to computers "in any locale."
The report showed that income played a role in computer access: Eighty-eight percent of households with annual incomes of at least $75,000 had one or more computers and 79 percent of these wealthy homes had one or more persons who used the Internet.
Twenty-eight percent of households with incomes less than $25,000 had computers, and 19 percent had Internet access.
Highlights of the report include:
About 94 million people, including 18 million children ages 3 to 17, used the Internet at home. In 1998, 57 million people were online.
Married-couple households were the most likely to have a computer and Internet access 64 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
Having a school-age child at home was associated with having a computer: Two-thirds of households with children had computers and 53 percent had Internet access. In comparison, 45 percent of households without children had computers and 37 percent had Internet access.
One-person households were the least likely to have computers or Internet access: Thirty percent of single-person households had computers and 24 percent had Internet access. In comparison, 58 percent of households with two to four persons had computers and 47 percent had Internet access.
Households in the West were most likely to have computers and Internet access, followed by the Northeast, the Midwest and the South.


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