When rural areas adopt broadband networks, it leads to higher levels of voting and civic engagement.
That’s according to a new a new study by Oklahoma State University. The study found that, as rates of rural broadband adoption increase, so do other civic factors. These include rates of voting in local elections, contacting local public officials, joining a neighborhood group and discussing politics with friends or family.
However, broadband adoption also comes with some drawbacks, like less talking with neighbors. Researchers also found that simple access isn’t enough. It’s also necessary to get rural residents to engage with the technology. The study was weighted to account for other factors that affect civic engagement, like education, income, race, and age. Even after controlling for these factors, the study still found that broadband adoption had a significantly positive impact on civic engagement.