Thomas Mead (TV 3 News) reports on Barbara Craig’s keynote address at NetHui:
.. Most of those affected live in low socioeconomic areas and are unable to pay for an internet connection, while some struggle with confidence and feel they have been left behind by the ever-changing technology, she said.
“We know that out there in many communities there are a lot of people who have never touched a computer or a mouse,” she said. “There’s a real cost to not being connected – to both to the Government and the individuals and families who are being left behind.”
Census statistics show more than 400,000 New Zealanders don’t have access to a computing device at home and of those, more than 20,000 don’t have access to a landline or other means of communication. …
Ms Craig says the program has had a dramatic impact, encouraging disenfranchised families to further their education, get employment and even vote.
“One of the biggest things is the education level changes for the families, it’s not just the children, she says. “[We’ve seen] parents go out and get jobs, parents wanting education […] [they] feel confident helping the kids with their homework.”
2020 is now experimenting with portable devices, allowing parents to buy iPads and smartphones for their children at $5 a week. The scheme is being trialled in Dunedin and will be reviewed in August. There are currently 100 devices out in homes.
“It means the kids will have their own device which they can bring home,” Ms Craig says. “They’re not going into school feeling like ‘I’m one of the people in this room who doesn’t have anything’”.
“We’ve seen kids completely turned around, and the parents are just amazed at how it’s changed them. It has [given them confidence], they stay at school.”
Nethui is an annual conference run by non-profit group InternetNZ.