Third of WV households lack computer, study says - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Third of WV households lack computer, study says

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Does the abominable snowman exist? Are ghosts real?

These questions plague eight-year-old Eyan Jarrell. They're the kind of questions only computers can answer, according to the third-grade student.

"'Cause I could do a lot of stuff like Google stuff like, 'Is Bigfoot real?' and stuff like that," he said.

For Eyan, these questions could linger.

Slightly more than 35 percent of households in West Virginia don't own a computer, according to a study released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and U.S. Dept. Of Commerce last month.

"He wants to be so knowledgeable, and he wants to Google everything, and it's impossible," said his mother, Barbara Jarrell.

On Monday, Jarrell enrolled Eyan at Piedmont Elementary in Charleston, a year-round school where she hopes her son gets the technological and Internet access he needs to grow.

Piedmont Elementary is a Title I school, which means it has a large population of low-income students. The status qualifies Piedmont for federal aid.

"Having that money at our disposal, we probably have an as well-equipped computer lab as any school in the county at the elementary level," said Principal Steve Knighton.

The study entitled, "Exploring the Digital Nation: America's Emerging Online Experience," ranked the Mountain State eighth in high-speed Internet subscriptions.

Without a computer, the Jarrells definitely can't use the Internet at home.

"Everything I need is it's, 'Get online, we have a website, we have a website, we have a website,'" said Jarrell, who claims she's unemployed. "So it holds me back also."

Jarrell said she can't afford the technology, but knows her son is worth it.

"So he can have the advantages at school I can't give at home," she said

Knighton said many of his students have computers at home, but a new grant could help the kids who do not.

The principal said he is applying for a Kanawha County Schools grant that would purchase almost 200 iPads for Piedmont.

"We just feel like it's a tool that has to be in every home, and we want to help provide that," Knighton said.