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I have five great-grandchildren, and they all have tablets and cell phones…albeit the cell phones are under supervision.  They range from 10 to 2 1/2, and the older four are proficient in computer skills (at least on a basic level, two of the kids are seven years old.)     The youngest, for obvious reasons does not have a tablet, or access to cell phone use.

Their parents are my grandchildren, all in their 30s.  I have a photo of the oldest, at five years, sitting at my good old KayPro II (my first computer) typing away.

No, this isn’t me bragging about my grandkids…it is a treatise on Children and Computers in general.   I’m not trying to say that ALL kids everywhere have their own tablets, or even access to them…not even at school.    The point I am trying to make is that although it is still the dawning (or maybe the sunrise) of the digital age– and certainly children in certain world societies and/or economic levels have greater exposure to technological break-throughs than others–kids do have access to computers and methods of learning and teaching have changed drastically since “WE” (whoever we are) were kids.

In fact, if I may state the obvious, there are areas in the world that still do not have running water, inside toilets, or electricity.  I won’t even go into the issues of politics, availability of education, nor launch into a discussion of poverty-vs-wealth.

There is much discussion about the extent to which children who are not exposed to technological gadgets are deprived.

I will be the first person to admit that the internet is…well, GREAT (to lack a more expansive superlative) and agree that everything anyone could ever possibly want to know is available online.   This is excellent.  Research possibilities for students of all ages are phenomenal…just enter a key word, and PRESTO! there is a wealth of information.  The downside to this is that although there are internet bibliographies, endless links to endless sites, one of the negative aspects is that there is no extraneous information to “discover” along the way of the search.

A good example is The Dictionary.  Remember the clunky old book we dragged around, and laboriously searched the pages for a certain vocabulary word.  Sure, the word was there (usually, if we had a clue about how to spell it,) but half the fun…or torture…of searching for our destination word, was the bonus appearance of other words popping up during the search.

Unfortunately, now that they have the internet dictionary…the paper dictionaries are becoming obsolete in some places.   Please excuse me for being an old-fashion English teacher–which I’m not, exactly….but I maintain that the old dictionaries, and other research tomes, and the endless reference books on the library shelves can’t be replaced with a quickie visit to a dictionary.com site.

But, having said that, I admit to being something of a luddite, (one of those guys that smashed up the new machines because they saw them as taking away jobs) and its quite possible that I don’t know everything about the subject. (Quite likely in fact.)

One more thing…sobering, and widely believed to be impossible, or at least improbable, is that an artificial storage method can fail…power sources can fail.  That’s a worst case scenario, of course, but we all know Murphy’s Law: that anything that can go wrong…will.   I think that it is risky to try to put all of human knowledge online, at the mercy of  cyberspace a la 2001 Space Odyssey.

At the risk of being annoying, I did not know how to spell Odyssey, and didn’t want to leave the post I’m writing and go to a dictionary site…so I used a Latin dictionary.   I’m not sure what the point of this paragraph is, except that it illustrates my insecurities about online-posting…it is too easy to lose a post when I leave to snoop around online.  That wouldn’t happen with a paper dictionary, except that I can’t find mine.

Sigh… the moral here is the old saw: “…don’t do as I do, do as I say.”