Perceptions about computers and the internet in a pediatric clinic population

Aaron E. Carroll, Frederick J. Zimmermann, Frederick P. Rivara, Beth E. Ebel, Dimitri A. Christakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Background. - A digital divide with respect to computer and Internet access has been noted in numerous studies and reports. Equally important to ownership is comfort with computers and Internet technology, and concerns about privacy of personal data. Objective. - To measure how households in a pediatric clinic vary in their attitudes toward computers, concerns about Internet confidentiality, and comfort using the Internet and whether these views are associated with household income or education. Design/Methods. - A phone survey was administered to a population-based sample of parents with children aged 0 to 11 years. All children received medical care from a community-based clinic network serving patients in King County, Wash. Results. - Eighty-eight percent of respondents used a computer once a week or more, and 83% of respondents reported favorable feelings toward computers. Although 97% of respondents were willing to share personal information over the Internet, many respondents considered data security important. While household income and parental education were associated with comfort and familiarity with computers, the effect is small. Respondents who already owned a computer and had Internet access did not differ in their perceptions according to socioeconomic or educational attainment. Conclusions. - Most families like using computers and feel comfortable using the Internet regardless of socioeconomic status. Fears about the digital divide's impact on the attitudes of parents toward computers or their comfort using the Internet should not be seen as a barrier to developing Internet-based health interventions for a pediatric clinic population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-126
Number of pages5
JournalAmbulatory Pediatrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Computers
  • Digital divide
  • Internet
  • Use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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