Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Computers Lower the Skills of Poor Kids

I have always wondered about politicians touting computers and internet for low-income kids to "help them get a leg up".  Vast numbers of the poor can't handle basic reading and math, but a computer will somehow make them valuable workers?   What these politicians don't realize is that the vast majority of kids don't use their computer as a "computer", but rather as an entertainment vehicle for Facebook, games and porn.  It distracts them from learning, not helps.

Seems that some people are finally figuring it out.  From the NYT of all places:

Economists are trying to measure a home computer’s educational impact on schoolchildren in low-income households. Taking widely varying routes, they are arriving at similar conclusions: little or no educational benefit is found. Worse, computers seem to have further separated children in low-income households, whose test scores often decline after the machine arrives, from their more privileged counterparts

When I got my first computer as a kid (queue up early 80s background music, see a 12-year old kid in front of a now-ancient Commodore Pet), I actually used it to program.  I taught myself BASIC.  I learned if-then statements and for-loops.   I wrote my own games.  It eventually led me down the path of electrical engineering ("Hey, computers are interesting, maybe I should go into that?").

Today's computers can be beneficial to learning - just like television can be - but most people won't take advantage of it and instead will be sucked into the mindless entertainment side.

1 comment:

Shaiko said...

What's next? Spending more per student doesn't increase learning?!