May 23, 2022

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Digital poverty amongst Cumbria children exposed during Covid lockdown

DIGITAL Poverty is becoming a problem among the county’s children who are having to use mobile phones to do their homework.

The grim facts were exposed at Cumbria County Council’s scrutiny committee meeting.

The Mail: Val Tarbitt who chairs of the Scrutiny advisory board for children and young people, Val Tarbitt who chairs of the Scrutiny advisory board for children and young people,

Val Tarbitt who chairs of the scrutiny advisory board for children and young people, thinks the first lockdown exposed the haves and the have nots. She said: “I was disappointed to learn from the Ofsted report that there are too many disadvantaged children learning at home on mobile phones. If a child has only got a phone to access their distance learning, then this will never do.” She said: “Children need to have the ability to access a stock of accessible computers. The Ofsted report spent too much time concentrating on potty training, and how to use knives and folks, instead of concentrating on the reality of school life today.”

The Mail: Distance learning a problem for someDistance learning a problem for some

Chris Hogg Who represents Kendal Castle, was equally concerned for the digital poverty aged exposed by the first lockdown. He said: “This has been an issue for my area too.” He said: “Some children live in very rural areas and don’t have a device, which leads them to feel isolated.”He added: “I purchased some Kindle Fires at £60 each to give to disabled children. Perhaps there could be a rethink and a look at digital poverty as county and not as small areas, in order to find more people to give devises to?”

Mark Wilson who represents Ulverston, says he has seen a take up in computers being bought for children by a number of organisations wanting to help. He said: “In Ulverston a group called ‘Ulver-Stem,’ have purchased a number of Chrome Books for children. Perhaps it would have been better to have done this in a joined up way, instead of here and there?”

Ms Tarbitt was open to expand the issue to become a county wide conversation. She said: “We need to look at the rural areas, as to where the connectivity problems are. We should stop doing just stuff on the hoof.