A child who uses a computer regularly has a better chance of excelling in the workforce as an adult than a child who doesn't, a University of Alabama at Birmingham study has revealed.
Shelia Cotten, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, says exposure to computers may give young people the technological attitudes and skills they need to do well in this technology-driven society.
"If you do not have the computer skills to find information you need, for homework or otherwise, then you will be greatly disadvantaged in our information-based society," Cotten stated.
Cotten and a team of researchers surveyed 1,202 fourth- and fifth-graders in the Birmingham City School System who participated in the nation's largest distribution of XO laptop computers during the 2008-09 academic year.
The XO laptop is a child-friendly computer system created by the One Laptop Per Child organization, which typically provides computers to disadvantaged youth in third-world countries.
The data showed that students who used a computer to do homework before receiving the XO tended to make greater use of the laptop and felt it helped them in their education.
They were also more comfortable integrating technology in their daily work, a skillset that is important in the workforce, Cotton said.
Conversely, students who did not have access to computers prior to the XO distribution used their laptops less.
The study was published in the June issue of Information, Communication and Society.