Yesterday I was running a workshop where we looked at the kinds of things that were essential for children. We came to the conclusion that there wasn’t much essential, except clean water, protection from the environment and a reasonable supply of food. However, when you ask children what’s essential they talk about things like the latest computer game or fashion. What is essential to one group of teenagers isn’t essential to others: ask any child in the Ugandan countryside for instance whether they really need an iPod. However, the Internet is fast becoming essential for children. Even infant school children are expected to use the Internet to help them complete their homework. That puts children who do not have Internet access at a real disadvantage. In the past it was people who couldn’t read or write who were excluded from much of society. Now it’s likely to be people who cannot use the Internet.

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