The other kids are talking about their phones again, and she is trying not to listen.
She likes it here, in the big room at the library in Northwest Washington where she comes twice a week for her after-school youth program.
The program technically ended 15 minutes ago, at 6 p.m., but DJ isn’t in a hurry to leave. Her mother often has to work late, and her brothers are often busy with their friends.
At a time when many parents agonize over their kids’ consumption of social media — fretting over the hours spent playing games and posting Instagrams and incessantly texting — DJ represents the flip side: teens who can’t afford phones or computers and don’t have reliable Wi Fi at home. The Pew Research Center reports that 88 percent of all American teens ages 13 to 17 own or have access to a cellphone, and most — 73 percent — have smartphones.
There are no city buses, no library within walking distance.
Often, students can’t even stay late at school, because the bus only runs once, and it’s an hour’s ride home.
Let’s consider the landscape just an hour or so outside of the city.
After working with youth-based public health initiatives that serve mostly rural areas, I could argue that access to technology is even more important to combat isolation.