The New York Times published an article earlier this week titled, “Most of U.S. Is Wired, but Millions Aren’t Plugged In.”
Although the Obama administration has made sure that nearly 98% of American homes have access to high-speed Internet, “tens of millions of people are still on the sidelines of the digital revolution” (NY Times). About 20 percent of adults in the US don’t use Internet at home, work, school, or on a mobile device. More and more jobs are requiring some sort of knowledge of computers and technology, and the older generation is being left behind. The article quotes a 70 year old who was turned town for a job because he couldn’t use a computer to check store inventory. Experts also believe that “persistent digital inequality” is widening social gaps for racial and economic disparities.
To deal with this issue head on, non-profit Code Club World is aiming at targeting young kids and teaching skills to provide them with a stronger technological knowledge that will be useful later in life. This group was founded in the UK and teaches children 9-11 years old basic coding skills. They believe that learning to code is an important skill since technology is now so prevalent, and without knowledge of it, even job applications can be unavailable. Code Club World also looks at the other benefits of coding, like reinforcing problem-solving skills and logical thinking that can be useful for all academic subjects.
About $500 million from the $7 billion package went towards programs to help people learn to use the Internet. Although these programs were successful, they were so on a small scale. Some Internet providers have started to offer Internet services more affordable for low-income households, as low as $10 a month.
So what now? Even though billions of dollars were spent to get Internet to people across the country, many don’t know how to use it and don’t have the resources to learn. So do we need more programs like Code Club World to teach these skills to both young and old? Do we take steps back and allow job applications to be available in hard copy, not just online?