The New York Times has a piece on the downside of broadband adoption. It seems like low-income kids enjoy playing video games and hob knobbing on social media sites like Facebook. (No wonder Zuckerberg wants to target 13 year olds.)
As quoted in The New York Times, “Despite the educational potential of computers, the reality is that their use for education or meaningful content creation is minuscule compared to their use for pure entertainment,” said Vicky Rideout, author of the decade-long Kaiser study. “Instead of closing the achievement gap, they’re widening the time-wasting gap.” In short, the time-waste gap is the new digital divide.
The irony of it is that the Federal Communications Commission wants to spend $200 million to teach households how to put technology to productive use. The FCC will be teaching households how to be productive? Really?
Cynicism aside, turning the computer at home into true capital stock by teaching young people how to use it could be a boon to employers looking for young employees with keystroke and data entry skills. Also, the efforts may help engender the next self-taught programmer who comes up with the next big idea in tech, whether it’s a new app or a new type of media company.
Microsoft and Best Buy are helping to fund some similar digital literacy initiatives so this may be a good investment in the long term for American labor. What the markets need, however, is for young people to put any digital literacy they garner to productive use.