Tech Gifts—For People Who Truly Need Them

. December 1, 2017.
holiday-tech-gifts

Gift-giving holidays are all about gadgets these days. Families that are comfortable with technology have a big advantage. Not only do they enjoy the latest techno-gizmos, they are also comfortable figuring out how things work, navigating virtual spaces and doing the inevitable problem-solving.

Since technology plays such a big part in education as well as adulthood, it would be great if everyone had easy, early access. Instead, we face what’s been called a digital divide. Families that don’t have ready access to technology often fall behind. During the holidays, when people who have more look for opportunities to share with people who have less, it’s worth thinking beyond warm mittens and turkey dinners. Consider participating in one of these efforts:

1. Donate money. The simplest way to get technology into the hands of kids who wouldn’t otherwise have it is to donate to well-run organizations.
– One Laptop Per Child has an ambitious goal—get a rugged, connected low-cost computer into the hands of every child in the world. (one.laptop.org)
– The Rural Technology Fund was founded by a tech executive who had limited access to computers when he was growing up in rural Kentucky. His organization helps out-of-the-way schools get equipment and books to encourage students to study electronics, programming or engineering.
(ruraltechfund.org)

2. Adopt a classroom. Public schools are another way to give kids access to technology. Teachers usually know what would make a difference in their classrooms, and playing Santa can be very rewarding.
– Your local school district. Find out if teachers at your child’s school have technology on their wishlists. Or make a gift to your local school foundation. If your district is affluent, consider reaching out to a school in a community that has more challenges.
– Donors Choose is one of several websites that give teachers a chance to explain how they would use specific pieces of equipment.
(donorschoose.org)

3. Donate Equipment. If family members get tech gifts during the holidays, you may have used equipment to donate. Or share the joy by giving another child a game your child loves.
– The Non-Profit Locator helps donors identify local organizations that might need equipment they aren’t using anymore.
(donatetechnology.com)
– Child’s Play gets video games to children’s hospitals and shelters for kids who have experienced domestic violence. (childsplaycharity.org)

4. Volunteer. Regardless of whether you consider yourself a tech guru, there are ways to help children learn about technology.
n Code.org hopes to make computer science a standard part of the curriculum just like biology or chemistry. (code.org/volunteer/guide.)
– Community Corp identifies volunteer opportunities for people who have more technical expertise. (communitycorps.org)

5. Set up passive donations. Perhaps the easiest way to support charities is by registering with a site that makes a microdonation every time you do something simple like searching or shopping online.
– Goodsearch is an ordinary search engine powered by Yahoo that makes a tiny donation to a chosen charity each time you search.
– Giving Assistant is a coupon marketplace that offers discounts from big retailers like Best Buy, Kohl’s and Bed Bath and Beyond. A percentage of what you save goes to the charity you designate.

Whatever you decide to do, involve your kids as much as possible. Encouraging them to imagine life without their beloved devices may very well be the gateway to a lifelong habit of empathy and generosity.