What's At Stake?— Why Computers M atter
to Your Child
The information age is arriving at
lightning speed. Children and young people are among the most
active citizens of the new era, and are often first in their
family to use the new media. Some parents and other guardians
of young people are enthusiastic about the new technologies;
others desperately hope these changes will just go away.
However, there is little doubt that computers
are here to stay and that they're changing the way young people
learn, play, and get ready for their work life.
- In the year 2000, an estimated 60 percent
of new jobs in America require technological skills and
- In the early 1990s, workers with computer
skills earned 10-15% more than workers without such skills.2
And children are increasingly using new
technologies in their schools, libraries, homes, and communities.
- Estimates show that in May 1997, nearly
10 million children were online either at home, at school,
or in the community-a five-fold increase from fall 1995.3
- For the 50 million children now in U.S.
elementary and secondary schools, 27% of classrooms have
Internet access and 78% of schools have some kind of access
to the Internet.4
In addition, parents understand that computer
skills are important. In fact, 89% of parents believe computer
skills are important to educational success.5
But parents face uncharted territory, and
the technologies are evolving so quickly it seems hard to
get a handle on what this new territory really is. One parent
"...it's like being illiterate in
a world of readers. We don't know enough about what's out
there to know what to be concerned about."
In addition, not all parents can afford
a computer in the home, and not all schools are yet integrating
technology into learning-creating a gap between children who
are prepared for information-era jobs and those who aren't.
How can a parent teach, when there's so
much to learn? This new challenge may seem unlike any other
you've faced before as a parent. But, in fact, many of the
answers lie in common sense, some basic experience, regular
vigilance, and sensible guidelines for children.
How Parents Can Help
Make sure your child's school has the appropriate
technology and uses it to enhance learning.
Make sure your child is involved in fun,
useful, and safe activities online.
In the Community
Make sure that the education and technology
needs of all children are being met. Contact your library,
school board, city council, and your county, state, and federal.