Free Computers to Every Child

by John Woodring in ,


Androidphoto © 2008 secretlondon123 | more info (via: Wylio)
I recently switched from the iPhone 3GS to a Motorola Atrix. The decision did not come easily because I liked my iPhone. Yes, I said that about my Blackberry too when I went to the iPhone. I even told people that I was going to hold out for the iPhone 5 when it becomes available this coming summer but I allowed my son to talk me into trying an Android phone. When the Atrix was announced, I thought that would be the Android for me with the speed and the flexibility of the phone. So far I have not been disappointed and even surprised at how well I have liked the Android 2.2 platform. As for my iPhone? I now have a great iPod Touch with a camera and GPS that does a few things my Atrix does not. At least I have an old phone that still has some usefulness compared to others collecting dust in some drawer. This got me thinking, what do people do with their old smartphones? I know there are organizations that donate old phones to battered women, a very good cause. However, I have another idea. As users replace their Android and iPhones devices they should donate the old device to schools so children can have technology in their hands.

I started running some numbers. First off, I see there is an estimated 50 million children age 12 to 17 inMotorola Atrixphoto © 2011 ETC@USC | more info (via: Wylio)
 the United States. This would be a good target demographic since it would cover middle and high school students. I am not going to try and see how many of these students, like my son, who already have an iPhone or Android phone. Next, I estimated the population of the United States which is an estimated 311 million people according to the Census Bureau. The percentage of Americans who have smartphones is 25% or 77.75 million people. Of this number, 24.26 million are Andriod users and 19.2 million are iPhone users for a total of 43.46 milliion users of the two brands and the numbers are raising daily. This means we could possibly give an estimated 87% of children age 12 to 17 a free computer that can access the Internet with a two year total refresh rate. Of course it is nice to play with theoretical statistics but what will people do with those old phones? Throw them away and pollute our environment?

The reason I chose Android and iPhones is because of the number of applications available to each platform, many of which are free. Blackberry apps are too few and can be expensive relative to Android and Apple. While there are fans out there, we might as well say WebOS and Symbian are almost nonexistent. Also, support for charging and synching is easy too. Apple has used the same USB power cord format for all of it’s phones and Andriods use the mini-USB or now micro-USB connection. While school districts might want to employ technicians with smartphone skills, it might be easier to recycle and replace phones that are no longer serviceable.


iphonephoto © 2009 anthony kelly | more info (via: Wylio)

Given the current and future state of education budgets in this country it is safe to say the idea of schools funding one to one computer initiatives is practically a dead idea. With donated smartphones students will be given a device that can fulfill a wide variety of academic tasks such as writing, research, media creation, data collection, and other tasks. Tax write-offs would be a great incentive for smartphone users to donate old devices as they upgrade every one to two years. Finally, it would be environmentally sound since these phones would not end up in some landfill polluting the environment. Most importantly, it keeps the dream alive of providing technology into the hands of all schoolchildren.iPhone 4 32GB Blackphoto © 2010 Yutaka Tsutano | more info (via: Wylio)

I would like to hear your thoughts of this plan so please comment below.