Don Tapscott coined the phrased “Digital Divide” in his 1997 book Growing Up Digital. He wrote of the danger that we’d “create a world of haves and have-nots, knowers and know-nots, doers and do-nots.”
The Digital Divide
Don Tapscott coined the phrased “digital divide” in his 1997 book Growing Up Digital. He wrote of the danger that we’d “create a world of haves and have-nots, knowers and know-nots, doers and do-nots, people who can communicate with the rest of the world and those who can’t. This is called creating a structural underclass, and it creates wounds in society that will be hard to heal.”
More than Computers
Most commonly a digital divide stems from poverty and the economic barriers that limit resources and prevent people from obtaining or using newer technologies.
However, research shows that the digital divide is more than just an access issue and cannot be alleviated merely by providing the necessary equipment. There are a least three factors at play; information accessibility, information utilization and information receptiveness. Beyond accessibility, individuals need to know how to make use of the information and communication tools once they exist within a community.
Our Unique Solution
Kids, Cops & Computers’ success lies in the fact that we do not just provide a computer. We ensure students have access to the Internet, become more proficient in tech literacy, and see the opportunities in their academic lives (and our Program) to use their resources and skills.
While Don Tapscott was coining the phrase ‘”Digital Divide” in 1997, we were connecting 21 kids in the Peel District School Board to their future by installing desktop computers and dial-up Internet connections in their homes.
Merry Go Round Children’s Foundation was co-founded by G. Scott Paterson and John McMahon with the vision to help “turn on learning”. Their goal was to get technology into the hands of kids and help them to get ahead in the millennium global arena.
Toronto District School Board join Merry Go Round Children’s Foundation as a Program Partner, and 28 computers are installed in homes in Regent Park.
Bill Blair and the Toronto Police Service are welcomed as a Program Partner. Police officers communicated closely with students through eBuddy messaging and email.
After a successful distribution of home computer systems and Internet dial-up services for 49 students, Merry Go Round Children’s Foundation was ready for a full-scale launch of its community outreach program: Kids, Cops & Computers.
Scott Paterson secured four founding partners to launch the Program: Rogers, IBM Canada, Microsoft and CDI College. Through eBuddy mentorship, a healthy relationship between students and police officers began to develop.
After a decade of modest growth, we reached a turning point where we were able to distribute 214 computers and double the number of schools we were in.
After a decade of modest growth, we reached a turning point where we were able to distribute 214 computers and double the number of schools we were in. Each year following we continued rapid growth and expanding throughout the school boards.
As the Program expanded, so did the structure. With hundreds of kids in the program we needed to adapt. We moved on from the eBuddy component the Program and introduced Lead & Learn sessions where officers came into the schools to share information and interact with the kids.
In 2015, 600 new students were enrolled in the Program and the new Senior Years programming was introduced for students in Grade 8-12.
After nearly two decades of championing the cause of digital equality, we continue to connect leaders and philanthropists to our vision of all kids being equipped for the digital economy.