Published: Sat 26 Sep 2015

All Children over 5 Deserve an iPad?

In an article in the Irish Independent, Michael Noonan says all children in Ireland over 5 should have an iPad. I hate this populist bullshit for a number of reasons.

  1. iPads are simple to use. They are designed that way. If they are not simple to use, they would not be so popular. Take away: kids don't need iPads to be more "tech savvy".
  2. We have about 1,400 homeless children in Ireland. Where they heck are they going to charge their iPads? Take away: kids need homes first, iPads at some further point down the line.
  3. If we want kids to be more tech savvy, we should teach them more about technology. Take away: we should teach kids coding and device development so they can build stuff, not just play with it.
  4. iPads are made by Apple and the source code of how they run is not made available to the user. Kids will only be able to "consume" on these devices, not expand their use. Take away: we should not force our kids to use any particular product (especially without them being given access to the source code) or brand; rather, we should promote open standards and code sharing in the true spirit of free and open source software - as all of us in the Drupal community do.
  5. iPads are very expensive. They cost about €500 each (I think - I don't have a tablet). Raspberry Pis cost about €35 each, are built on free, open source technology/software, and encourage kids to investigate and expand. Take away: kids should be provided with Raspberry Pis if we really think they need to be more tech savvy.

The same arguments hold true for the use of Microsoft Windows-based computers in schools. Microsoft does not let our kids see the underlying source code, does not let them investigate it, and does not let them know what tracking software may be in use on the operating system. Take away: schools should run their systems on free, open source software (saving the state billions of euro) such as Ubuntu.

I have made myself available to those I know running in our upcoming election to chat about the benefits of using open source as a real solution over proprietary systems as populism. They all have my phone number and address.

If you like what I write, you might like to follow me on Twitter @markconroy

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