The liberals used to think that if only poor kids would have computers like rich kids, they would become just like rich kids and there would be no more “gaps.” Guess what? It didn’t happen that way.
In the 1990s, the term “digital divide” emerged to describe technology’s haves and have-nots. It inspired many efforts to get the latest computing tools into the hands of all Americans, particularly low-income families.
Those efforts have indeed shrunk the divide. But they have created an unintended side effect, one that is surprising and troubling to researchers and policy makers and that the government now wants to fix.
As access to devices has spread, children in poorer families are spending considerably more time than children from more well-off families using their television and gadgets to watch shows and videos, play games and connect on social networking sites, studies show.
. . .
“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.”
It’s shocking. Who could have possibly predicted that computers wouldn’t be the magic bullet that would close all “gaps”?
As I wrote four years ago:
Why do people think that computers are some sort of magical panacea that will help poor kids do as well in school as middle class kids? This is leftist-liberal thinking. Leftist liberals like to think that all inequalities have to do with wealth and discrimination. They think that there is something that rich parents buy for their children that makes them smarter that poor parents can’t afford. The leftist liberals refuse to comprehend that poor kids are born less intelligent, and then, to make matters worse, their parents teach them lower class values instead of middle class values.
Teaching middle class values to poor kids would be inexpensive and the most effective possible policy to improve life outcomes of poor kids. But this is something leftist liberals refuse to do because it would be an admission that lower class values are inferior to middle class values. It would be an admission that poor people are partly responsible for their own poverty. It would be an admission that the poor scholastic performance of poor children isn't the fault of right-wing politicians.
Rich parents send their kids to private schools without any computers. Just a few months ago, “sabril” wrote in a comment: “Probably it won't be too long before NAM underperformance is blamed on the presence of computers. Which are after all a big distraction.” It looks like “sabril” should get some sort of award for predicting that.