TECH 07

TECH #7
6/20/97

When I was four, Captain Kangaroo would hook me up with interesting little things about my growing universe. This is a different world. When my four year old wants adventure, it’s frequently with a mouse. Click.

“Kids in homes with personal computers are watching a lot less television,” Luanne Flikkema told me from North Sioux City, SD. Doctor Luanne, director of Global Research at Gateway 2000. That’s the same firm that just opened a huge operation in Hampton. A national survey of families commissioned by that computer company shows personal computer use among children is good for them. “Computers are becoming an important tool in helping our children learn,” she said and backed it up with some impressive findings.

Among kids age 10 to 12 with a PC in the home, grade improvements were reported by 67%. Imagine. The survey tells a social tale as well. Most children believe kids who can zip around on a PC are smart, and about a third say regular click time is way cool. “Not only is PC usage among children growing, it’s a basic skill now like reading and writing,” Doctor Luanne told me. So- is this direct from the cradle to the mouse trend a good thing or what?

“It’s a new generation who can’t imagine a world without computers. It’s comfortable technology to kids. For them, cyber-space is not an alien environment.” What will my four year old be doing when she’s in high school? “As the infrastructure of the pipeline improves you’ll see cable, video, internet, and phone service all converge. And it won’t be like TV.”

“You’ll find it a tactile world. Put on a special helmet and gloves and shake hands with an on-line chum, or be part of a group playing three dimensional games.” What’s the downside doc? “Well, I guess the danger lies where it becomes more attractive to download sensory perception than to participate in the real world.” I had to try hard not to say in Mr. Spock deadpan, “fascinating Captain.” We were talking about kids.

I thanked doctor Luanne as my daughter took out the Disney CD-ROM. She loaded it, found the picture of Woody and proceeded to help Buzz Lightyear save the universe again. Click.