Sunday, May 24, 2009

What good does a computer do a child?

Providing a child with a computer is a gateway to a whole new level of education. Its one thing for them to work with computers at school to edit documents and learn typing skills. Its' a whole different world that opens up when they have the opportunity to use one at home for recreation and social activities as well. Computing and communication technology continue to make an ever-increasing impact on all aspects of cognition, education and training throughout a child's life.

Statistics bear this out and I know this from experience. When I was growing up in the 1980's we were one of the few families on the block who had a computer. It was a commodore-64 and it was the coolest thing around. Children would come over just to check this thing out. It could play games and you could compose midi music on it! We had a room devoted to the computer and my two brothers and I would spend hours working together in our 'pirates cave' creating games in the Basic programming language.

There was no Internet but there was a system of local and remote BBS's (bulletin board systems) where you could post text comments and download files. Obviously as technology moved forward, these systems are arcane and obsolete, but they provided us with the framework to understand the emerging technologies of today. All three of us pursued degrees in technology and are working in some way or another in technology fields.

Just having the computer available to us to play with gave us an ongoing educational life experience that cannot be replicated in a classroom!

Fast forward to today. Can any one of us imagine our life without a computer? Can you picture a world without being able to Google, Yahoo, Email, Blog, Social Network, Job hunt, E-bay, and name a billion other things right at your fingertips? Some children in this country live in that world.

Computers are not the end in and of themselves but the ability to access and share information on demand is. Not only do children do homework on computers in the public schools but in many cases they upload it to the classroom right from home. Imagine being the kid still turning in paper reports!

This is what we call the 'digital divide'. It does not seem that important on the surface but its a chasm to cross as these children grow up and try to pursue a career in any field! It hinders their ability to work with and understand emerging technologies that will define the future of our country and the world. If you've ever provided technical support you know what I'm talking about. Certain things should just be basic knowledge. Using a computer is one of them.

Consider the fact that Americans junk almost 3 million tons of electronics every year and this amount is increasing! Lots of this waste goes into our landfills where it pollutes our local environment for years to come. Every time a computer is dumped in a landfill also represents a missed opportunity to provide information aged tools to a disadvantaged families. We can do better!

For more information on how you can donate your computer to be refurbished for a charitable cause please go to

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