In an effort to get kids to be more connected, the Department of Transportation and other agencies are offering $2.9 million to schools to get more kids online and connected.
The money, to be paid to schools that offer a Spectrum program, will cover Internet service for at least 10 percent of students in grades kindergarten through 12.
The effort is part of the Department’s effort to address problems with connectivity in the U.S. and around the world, including the problem of kids getting lost in their homes, said Kathleen A. Bynum, the assistant secretary for digital public health.
“We’re trying to get parents to use the Internet as a tool to help their kids and their families stay connected,” she said.
The Department of Health and Human Services said the Spectrum program will be targeted at schools with at least 50 percent of the school population and that it would be open to schools with a population of 100,000 or more.
The Federal Communications Commission announced in March that it was expanding its Spectrum program to include schools that have fewer than 250 students.
It also is extending the program to all schools.
The Spectrum program has been criticized by some parents and some researchers, including some who have called for more attention to kids at risk of having poor Internet access.
Some critics argue that the program encourages children to get distracted and even neglect their computer use.
Parents and school officials say Spectrum is necessary to help them connect with their children in school.
The program was developed with the help of federal grants, said Laura Prentiss, the deputy assistant secretary at the Health and Education Departments Office of the Chief Information Officer.
She added that the Spectrum initiative is not about encouraging kids to use their devices.
“The Spectrum program is a program that’s been in place for a number of years, and it has worked,” she told The Associated Press.
Prentess said the goal is to make sure kids in a school have access to high-speed Internet service as soon as possible.
She said the government will continue to invest in Spectrum programs for schools with low enrollment.