Methods: This study analyzed cross-sectional survey data collected from grandparents raising grandchildren between March 2021 and March 2022. Data were collected via multiple sources, including state agencies, local non-profit organizations serving kinship families, foster parent associations, schools, and Qualtrics Panels. Grandparents who raised school-aged grandchildren (N=287) were selected for this study. We used two indicators to measure grandchildren’s educational outcomes: grandchildren’s school attendance (1= very poor and poor, 2= average, and 3 = good) and overall academic performance (1= very poor and poor, 2= average, and 3 = good) in the past six months. Grandparents’ use of technology during grandchildren’s remote learning (i.e., having stable internet, access to digital devices, receiving technical support) and their comfort level with technology (i.e., using computers, smartphones, tablets) were treated as independent variables. These two variables were measured using Likert scales (1= strongly disagree and 6 = strongly agree). Grandparent race/ethnicity, gender, and age and grandchild race/ethnicity, age, gender, grade, remote learning history since the onset of COVID-19, and current learning mode were controlled as covariates. Ordered logistic regression analyses were conducted using STATA.
Results: Descriptive results indicated that 74.48% (n = 213) of grandparents reported their grandchildren with good attendance, 17.48% (n = 50) with average attendance, and 8.04% (n =23) with very poor or poor attendance. Similarly, 70.38% (n = 202) of grandparents reported their grandchildren with good academic performance, 21.95% (n = 63) with average academic performance, and 7.67% (n = 22) with very poor or poor academic performance. Ordered logistic regression analyses suggested that the savvy use of technology during grandchildren’s remote learning was significantly associated with higher odds of grandchildren’s better attendance (OR = 1.80, p = 0.006) and academic performance (OR = 1.82, p = 0.004), when all of the other variables in models were held constant. Grandparents’ high comfort level with technology was significantly associated with higher odds of grandchildren’s school attendance (OR = 1.69, p = 0.009) when all of the other variables in the model were held constant.
Conclusions and implications: Results of our study suggest that the use of technology and grandparents’ comfort level with technology plays a significant role in influencing grandchildren’s attendance and academic performance. Results further imply the need to provide digital devices and increase stable internet accessibility for grandparent-headed families. Lastly, schools and other community-based organizations need to provide technical assistance, technical-related education workshops, and peer support groups to grandparents who are not tech-savvy to better support grandchildren’s educational outcomes.