We hear a lot from Washington about the “Digital Divide,” you know the line between those who have internet access and those who do not. We need people in Washington with a historical perspective, people who will think long and hard about issues. But to gain this wisdom takes time, and time is not on the side of those pondering access to the digital world. Washington politicians often have one foot in the past, one in the present, and none in the future.
There is a digital divide, but it is in an uncomfortable place for most politicians. Anyone with a cell phone, laptop, or desktop computer has access to more information than even existed just a decade ago. For just a few dollars one can have a computer many times more powerful than the one used to send men to the moon. Right here in White County one can get data wirelessly, through cable, fiber optics, and satellite connections. The divide isn’t defined in terms of access.
So where is the “Digital Divide?” The “Digital Divide” emerges from the practical application of data. Parents are the key to our future with all this power in our hands. We now have access to every great thought, every library, scientific data, and most historical documents. Younger people must choose, with the help of parents, where to spend their time. You can play games and spend endless wasted hours on social media. Or you can choose to use this unprecedented information access to create, learn, and communicate in new and exciting ways.
Information is just now emerging about the addictive nature of social media and gaming. Some countries now categorize these as addictive as drugs or cigarettes. How many “likes” your child gets from some nameless or faceless person is irrelevant and may be psychologically destructive. The “Digital Divide” is all about the practical application of information, not about access.
When you use the Internet solely as a babysitter, you are missing an opportunity to give your children a true head start in life. Let’s all give our children that leap forward.