From Googling a person in history to watching a YouTube video on how to complete a difficult maths sum - In modern day society, learning has become simple with the touch of a button and a strong wi-fi signal. However, this is a privilege that many of us take for granted. Many families across New Zealand are not in a position to fund internet connectivity, with a Network for Learning survey finding that in some the country's poorest schools, less than a quarter of students had access to the internet at home. Now, this digital divide is something that educators around the country are having to navigate when it comes to students and their homework.
Tauranga principals are doing their bit to change up their learning and communicating methods to mediate the digital divide.
A survey by the state-owned Network for Learning (N4L) found that at one in six of the country's poorest schools, less than a quarter of students had access to the internet at home.
Network for Learning, which provides high-speed broadband to 99 per cent of New Zealand schools, also found that 56 per cent of the low-decile principals nationwide felt the lack of internet at home had an impact on teaching and learning.
However, some Tauranga principals have changed up learning tasks to tackle this problem, with others throwing out homework completely.
Otumoetai Primary School principal Zara McIndoe said the school combated the problem by opening up a range of options for pupils and their parents.
McIndoe said if the school became aware of someone without access, they provided alternative options when it comes to homework. Some can use the internet, while others can read a book or practice their timetables.
However, McIndoe encouraged pupils to spend their time at home with their parents as "family time is hard pushed".
She said reading a recipe book when cooking with mum or dad or helping with the housework had enough learning benefits to count as homework.
When it came to communicating with parents outside of school, she said the school took a "three-prong approach" with a paper copy, a Facebook post, and a website copy so no one missed out.
Child Poverty Action Group co-convenor Alan Johnson said the home internet data, included for the first time in Network for Learning's annual survey of schools, was no surprise.
"While we have probably seen an increase in connections to digital services over the last four or five years because the fact is things are getting cheaper, the reality is that for people at the bottom, that is still a problem," he said.
"The big basic issue is lack of income."
Merivale School principal Tom Paekau said the need used to be much higher for parents seeking internet at home and the school itself used to provide wi-fi for many in the community.
However, with the rise of things like smartphones and mobile data, more pupils were getting access, even if it was only a small amount, he said.
In the 2013 Census, 62,000 (15 per cent) of households with school-aged children, with 150,000 children between them, did not have internet at home.
The 2020 Communications Trust estimated those numbers were now down to between 25,000 and 30,000 homes with about 80,000 school-aged children - about 10 per cent of the country's 808,000 school students.
Greerton Village School principal Anne Mackintosh said her school had created a no homework policy so that the digital aspect was not an issue, but also so children could spend time with their parents.
Mackintosh questioned if internet access at home was beneficial anymore, with games like Fortnite putting a strain on the safety aspect of having home connectivity.
She said it was concerning that children could talk to hundreds of unknown people of all ages on the platform.
This opinion was shared by many principals, in secondary and primary education.
In a Bay of Plenty Times article towards the end of last year, it was found that popular online game Fortnite prompted Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty principals to warn parents about the "addictive nature" of online gaming and the effect on students.