FCC Worries That Poor People Are Enjoying Their Electronics Too Much

Remember the "digital divide"? Back in the 1990s, the problem was that poor people did not have enough access to computers and the Internet. Today the problem is that they have too much access. Evidently the digital divide has given way to the "time-wasting gap." I shit you not. The New York Times reports that bridging the digital divide "created an unintended side effect, one that is surprising and troubling to researchers and policy makers and that the government [naturally] now wants to fix": "As access to devices has spread, children in poorer families are spending considerably more time than children from more well-off families using their television and gadgets to watch shows and videos, play games and connect on social networking sites." Silly lower classes! Don't they realize this wonderful new technology is for self-improvement, not for pleasure? Something must be done:

The new divide is such a cause of concern for the Federal Communications Commission that it is considering a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.

Separately, the commission will help send digital literacy trainers this fall to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Some of the financial support for this program, part of a broader initiative called Connect2Compete, comes from private companies like Best Buy and Microsoft.

These efforts complement a handful of private and state projects aimed at paying for digital trainers to teach everything from basic keyboard use and word processing to how to apply for jobs online or use filters to block children from seeing online pornography.

"Digital literacy is so important," said Julius Genachowski, chairman of the commission, adding that bridging the digital divide now also means "giving parents and students the tools and know-how to use technology for education and job-skills training."

In his 2000 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton announced "a national crusade" to "close the digital divide between those who've got the tools and those who don't." Now the Obama administration is launching a national crusade to close the digital divide between those who know how to use those tools properly—for good, pro-social, educational purposes—and those who erroneously use them for mindless entertainment that boosts neither grades nor productivity.

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  • Lord Humungus||

    *mumble* unintended consequences *mumble*

  • Tim||

    This is the sort of unfunny soul killing facism that one expects the First Lady to be in charge of.

  • Tim||

    Michelle@Eatyourvedgiesandonlyusethe nettodownloadbirthcontrolinfo.org

  • CatoTheElder||

    If the consequences are entirely predictable, in what sense are the unintended?

  • Ted S.||

    It's almost as if there's a law about this or something.

  • Mo' $parky||

    the commission will help send digital literacy trainers this fall to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

    I'd like to suggest another group that could use some training: the US Congress.

  • JW||

    They have staffers who are paid to be literate for them and to print out their email.

  • Loki||

    Hey just think of all those digital literacy trainer jobs they're creating in the process! Broken Windows FTW!

  • Mo' $parky||

    Now the Obama administration is launching a national crusade to close the digital divide between those who know how to use those tools properly—for good, pro-social, educational purposes—and those who erroneously use them for mindless entertainment that boosts neither grades nor productivity.

    I wonder how many of these administration officials run to their 8 year old nephews when they need their iPhones fixed.

  • JW||

    Odd how they always manage to find new problems. Smart like a fox, they are.

    This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.

    I'm sure that this will be just as successful as the federalistas nutrition awareness programs.

  • Old Mexican||

    This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.


    Government officials are very irony-impaired: The UNproductive are going to teach people how to be productive with their time.

  • Brandon||

    If you can't do, badger. That's the saying, right?

  • Tulpa the White||

    And it's based on a flerking KFF study, too. Known massagers of data to support nanny policies.

    Oh, and do read the fine print:

    The study found that children of parents who do not have a college degree spend 11.5 hours each day exposed to media from a variety of sources, including television, computer and other gadgets. That is an increase of 4 hours and 40 minutes per day since 1999.

    Children of more educated parents, generally understood as a proxy for higher socioeconomic status, also largely use their devices for entertainment. In families in which a parent has a college education or an advanced degree, Kaiser found, children use 10 hours of multimedia a day, a 3.5-hour jump since 1999. (Kaiser double counts time spent multitasking. If a child spends an hour simultaneously watching TV and surfing the Internet, the researchers counted two hours.)

    EXTREMELY sloppy procedures. To be expected from the Kaiser dolts.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Not to mention that they don't actually measure what the media is being used for; they assume it's all wasted time. So even this incredibly flawed study doesn't support the claim that poor kids are wasting their time.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tulpa the White,

    they assume it's all wasted time.


    That's the thing: In general, government people always think in generalities.

    Yuk, yuk, yuk!

  • Paul.||

    You must be a youngster. Remember back in the 70s and the 80s that exposure to television was simply, ipsofactorama, bad?

  • ||

    Even with the knowledge of what the interweb was being used for wasting time is objective. So anything not being used to look for "alternative energy" and progressive causes then that would be awaste of time!
    Kinda like us preaching to the converted here.

  • R C Dean||

    If a child spends an hour simultaneously watching TV and surfing the Internet, the researchers counted two hours.)

    Oh, for fuck's sake. Does this mean that if I am browsing something on my Kindle, factchecking it on my IPad, while the TV is on, and my buddy sends me a funny video on my phone, that time gets quadruple-counted?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I think I just learned about a way you can bill clients for lots more hours.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Shouldn't they teach them how to use their computers while eating broccoli on a treadmill?

  • ||

    Bwahahahahahahaha! True brother, how true.

  • Brandon||

    Anonbot?

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    They don't just want us all to be equally poor; they want us all to be equally bored.

  • Old Mexican||

    "Digital literacy is so important," said Julius Genachowski, chairman of the commission[...]


    "How important is it?"
    "It is so important that I'm willing to improperly use an adverb instead of properly using an adjective. Talk about teaching people literacy.

    Again, government critters are irony-impaired.

  • Old Mexican||

    "in place of a proper adjective."

    At least I can use the fact I am a foreign as an excuse. What is Mr. Genachowski's excuse? That he is really a teenager?

  • ||

    From the last name, he's probably an FOB Pollock. I am reliably informed by several unfunny jokes that they are not the brightest of people.

  • Randian||

    That's a little pedantic, is it not? Failure to use proper grammar does not per se render one illiterate, just sloppy or poorly educated in the mechanics of the language.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Misliterate.

  • fried wylie||

    Unliterate.

  • ||

    Lacking literatnessticity

  • Brandon||

    Bidenesque.

  • Paul.||

    Isn't it reasonable to assume that had this proposal been in place a couple of years ago, the Anthony Weiner scandal never would have happened, and Mr. Weiner would still be handling the business of the American People?

  • Loki||

    Weiner would still be handling the business of the American People?

    I seem to recall the only thing he ever "handled" was his weiner.

  • jorgeborges||

    We are monkeys, barely out of the jungle.

  • Restoras||

    Somewhere, Orwell is laughing his ass off.

  • John||

    Or crying.

  • juris imprudent||

    Orwell's own personal hell, screaming from a sound proof booth: "it wasn't meant as a how-to guide".

  • Randian||

    I officially vote to retire, or at least scale back, the "1984/instruction manual" jokes. Come on now, we're innovators 'round here! Let's think of something new.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I object. Mike took away the Nazis; now you want to take away Orwell.

  • fried wylie||

    No more references to fascism/socialism/communism either.

    Also prohibited are any references to "destruction of liberty", "oppression", "state sanctioned violence", "jackboots", "face stomping", etc.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Or references to Founding Fathers. Or Romans.

  • Restoras||

    Is Monty Python still ok?

  • ||

    Okay, I buy no more 1984 references. Can we move on to the more recent Hunger Games?

  • fried wylie||

    Can we move on to the more recent Hunger Games?

    Great, now you're bringing starvation into the fray.

  • ||

    Or how about all posts must be in the syntax of Yoda. Er, In the syntax of Yoda all posts must be made.

  • John||

    If I were a poor kid and living in a dangerous neighborhood, I think I would probably stay home and watch TV and play video games too.

  • Tim||

    OUT: Call of Duty IV

    IN: Feminist Pesperpectives on Gendernorming.org

  • juris imprudent||

    Talk about what would drive a person to violence.

  • Proprietist||

    "Technology has microaggressed against me!"
    - A poor person

  • Proprietist||

    By the way, checked out that Microaggressions blog for the first time. It is seriously the stupidest thing I've ever seen in my life.

  • Mo' $parky||

    "I had a 15 kill streak going but then some hacker ran up and knifed me. As I watched, his digital avatar teabagged mine. It made me feel weak, helpless." - PoorGamer69

  • ||

    Ok I had to look up microaggression. And I can't stop laughing. What's next? If you don't know what it is, look it up. Basically every human behavior towards another is a microaggression of some sort. We have officially over-analyzed our society into a mire of phsychological shit!

  • Old Mexican||

    The new divide is such a cause of concern for the Federal Communications Commission that it is considering a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps.


    One more compelling piece of evidence to show that government will always invent a new hobgoblin to justify their profligacy.

    I would feel less insultedin my intelligence if they simply came out and said "Because Fuck You. That's why." At least I would know where I stand.

  • niobiumstudio||

    I don't think the problem is not knowing where you stand. You know where you stand - you wouldn't move an inch if they came out and blatantly said "because fuck you." The problem is all the really good, clever ideas have been taken. They occasionally come up with some goodies and the internet is kind of like the final frontier that is "yearning to be regulated". They are bound to come up with some shitty justifications for existence every now and again.

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    The government doesn't have to invent the hobgoblin. But they keep pretending they can fix the real one, which is the simple fact that most poor people are poor because they are lazy and/or stupid. The problem was never that they lacked iPhones and iPads. And sure enough, once given those "tools," the poor don't spend their time tracking down jobs (which they could have done with a newspaper, after all). They waste their time and wait foer the next handout.

    Lesson #95 billion that giving people free shit accomplishes absolutely nothing.

  • Brandon||

    Of course, if you say that most poor people are poor because they are lazy and/or stupid, some dipshit will tell you about some singular exception and then pretend that he just disproved your point. Although some people get creative and call you racist or say something about KOCH BROTHERS or "rich people can afford to pay more taxes."

  • thom||

    Ugh. I've met plenty of smart and hard-working poor people. Poor people tend to be poor because they were born that way, and the problem is exacerbated by an overbearing government that needs to keep them that way in order to justify ninety percent of the crap that they do.

  • Rich||

    it is the FCC's mission to "make available so far as possible, to all the people of the United States, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication services with adequate facilities at reasonable charges."

    So there you have it. The FCC is *required by Law* to create a Digital Literacy Corps to teach people at schools about computers.

  • Rich||

    IOW, what Old Mexican said.

  • Tim||

    The only thing that could make it better is a Digital Literacy SWAT team.

  • Randian||

    Man, the Microsoft Search Dog is screwed

  • Loki||

    For Christ's sake will you stop giving them ideas already?

    ...Maybe they could borrow the Dept. of Education's or the FDA's. Dammit! Now I'm doing it!

  • Randian||

    Why not just create a tax incentive to corporations and individuals to install work-like filters so that no one can get on Facebook or play a game anywhere? If you can prove you bought and installed a filter on your wireless router or server, you get $1000 tax credit.

    I can come up with these awful ideas all day. One of the reasons I am a libertarian is because I don't want people like me with any kind of power. I recognize my own limits.

  • fried wylie||

    I can come up with these awful ideas all day.

    Which is why I thank God for productivity-killers.

  • Randian||

    You can do any kind of social engineering with the tax code.

    For example:

    - Tax credit to individuals who voluntarily opt to have their internet use monitored, tracked, and analyzed. Insurance companies do this with your driving habits, so why not have the government do it with your surfing habits?
    - Tax credit to attend "Digital Literacy" courses sponsored by HHS.
    - Voluntary registration of digital devices.

  • fried wylie||

    Look, Randian, a facebook game! Or, umm, there's some porn.

    Anything to stop you giving Them more ideas.

  • ||

    You mean there's not a Digital Literacy SWAT team??? The Committee for Acronyms could name it S.T.U.P.I.D.D. (the SWAT To Uplift the Poor Ignorant in the Digital Divide.)

  • fried wylie||

    Best mockronym of the day.

  • ||

    Yes, we mock, until this organization exists one day. Then I will be deemed a prophet!

  • R C Dean||

    The only thing about that mission statement is that it has nothing to do with educating anyone on how to use communication services, only with making sure they are available.

  • ||

    See also, concerns about "poverty" turning into "income inequality".

  • R C Dean||

    And, of course, "global warming" - "climate change" - "climate instability".

  • Pro Libertate||

    Climate uncertainty. Climate was deterministic until man got involved. Now it's a chaotic system.

  • Old Mexican||

    Some of the financial support for this program, part of a broader initiative called Connect2Compete, comes from private companies like Best Buy and Microsoft.


    Heda! Heda, hedo!
    Come to me, ye cronies!
    Cronies, to me!
    Government, your lord!
    Calls upon you!

  • Tim||

    Let the Wookie win, I say.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Few things annoy me more than the increasingly common subtext that there's something immoral in doing things just because you enjoy that. Like I'm some how stealing time from society if I don't spend every second of my life doing something useful.

  • John||

    I totally agree. Behind that is the idea that somehow pleasure is a wasted life. Well maybe it is. Maybe it is not. It just depends on the person. Some people's lives are really miserable. Some people have crosses I would never want to bear. Given that, who am I or anyone else to condemn someone for taking pleasure where they can find it?

  • SugarFree||

    It's a natural consequence of embracing collectivism. Individuals cannot waste time, because it's their choice to do what they like. Collectivists expect everyone to pull their weight, like we are all in one big yoke.

    A place for everyone and everyone in their place.

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    Is this from the Onion? Even for the Obama dickwads, it is hard to believe this is real. Almost.

  • ||

    I think The Onion can officially close its doors now. Reality has trounced satire.

  • some guy||

    I'm used to the federal government doing a wide range of stupid things. But every now and then it does something so stupid that I am forced to facepalm, sigh, and pause for a few seconds before I continue with my day.

    This is one of those things.

  • BakedPenguin||

    OT: More fainting couch material. Yahoo "Science" "Journalism" - Once Obese Still Face Stigma. As usual, the Kids in the Hall anticipated this.

  • ||

    Refer up to MikeP's comment:
    "I think The Onion can officially close its doors now. Reality has trounced satire."
    To hell with all of this news and social crap. This is getting scary. I'm sticking to my online midget porn from now on.

  • fried wylie||

    considering a proposal to spend $200 million

    No. Next question.

    basic keyboard use

    Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.

  • ||

    C'mon, how about classes for porn surfing in one handed keyboard use.

  • fried wylie||

    If you can't figure it out on your own, then you don't deserve to get off.

  • ||

    That's why I use the mouse. At least until voice command money shot search is invented.

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    From the article:

    Like other researchers and policy makers, Ms. Boyd said the initial push to close the digital divide did not anticipate how computers would be used for entertainment.

    “We failed to account for this ahead of the curve,” she said.

    TOP MEN fail to realize the interwebs have games, pornography, and social networking.

  • fried wylie||

    TOP MEN fail to realize the interwebs have games, pornography, and social networking.

    But don't let that lead you to doubt their TOPNESS.

  • fried wylie||

    use filters to block children from seeing online pornography

    Not having kids, I've never attempted to use such software, but I have to assume it comes with documentation.

  • Rich||

    You're assuming that people targeted by the Corps know how to read.

  • widget||

    As access to devices has spread, children in poorer families are spending considerably more time than children from more well-off families using their television and gadgets to watch shows and videos,

    "Shoot the Apple" and "The World of Goo" are physics puzzles. I don't what games they're playin' down the street in the trailer park or up the street in DC.

  • fried wylie||

    *off to teh google*

  • Ska||

    heh, World of Goo is a good one.

  • ||

    It's a series of boob tubes.

  • Tonio||

    teach everything from basic keyboard use and word processing to how to apply for jobs online or use filters to block children from seeing online pornography

    So basically these favored groups are going to get help desk service at the expense of the rest of us.

    That's also a pretty big scope they've defined, and I can already envision the mission-creep and calls for more funding.

    And there are already plenty of private sources for this info. Microsoft has good consumer security education resources on their website. Community colleges teach keyboarding.

  • fried wylie||

    WHO DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO USE A FUCKING KEYBOARD BY NOW?!??!!

    Seriously, who. So I can go to their house and strangle them with a corded-keyboard.

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    Once the FCC finishes teaching these po folks how to use a keyboard, they will have to start all over again on touchscreens. The FCC: teaching you how to use yesterday's technology today!

  • widget||

    10 years from now you won't find a corded-keyboard to strangle anyone with.

  • fried wylie||

    I'll have my rebuilt G15. Forever.

  • fried wylie||

    (Forever, or the obsolescence of USB)

  • R C Dean||

    Actually, fried one, its not that uncommon, believe it or not. When we put in our Electronic Medical Record system, we had to put on a few classes on computer basics.

    Some people are still getting along pretty much like just about everybody did, say, 15 - 20 years ago.

  • fried wylie||

    15yrs ago, I had already mastered keyboard usage.

    Maybe you meant 150years ago?

  • Brandon||

    20 years ago was 1992. Given that you had to have a keyboard to play Doom, I'd say most of the people who didn't know how to use a keyboard at that point are dead by now.

  • Spiny Norman||

    In his 2000 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton announced "a national crusade" to "close the digital divide between those who've got the tools and those who don't."

    Mission accomplished! Thanks, Federal Government!

  • ancestrialLocke||

    It is not to far to look and see the elitism that is on display. Rich people use their electronics well while poor people don't. This is what happens in feadel societies. The economicilly wealthy are connected to the king's power and use that power to manage the lower classes for a supposed improvement in the overall economic productivity. In other words, they want the peasants to be more productive so that they can reap the reward. This is why so many modern socialist ecomomies go out there and try to do education programs for the poor. It is a way of improving the labor so that the government industiries can profit by it.

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