Teaching Kids To Be Catalysts For Change
I am using my smart phone to write this article, an Apple iPhone to be exact. I recently had a conversation with a friend who is very anti-tech. She has a podcast where she talks about well-being and mental health. Her latest podcast is all about how ‘tech’ can destroy and harm peoples wellbeing if used unwisely. I listened to it and although I agreed with some points, I thought it was a bit one sided, ‘What about all the good technology can do for the world?’ I asked her.
I teach a kid-friendly level of digital design and tech to primary school-age kids. I am very pro STEAM, I’ve seen the good tech can do at an educational level. I’ve seen the benefits and skill development it brings. I’ve seen how learning about innovation can motivate and inspire young people giving them job and career opportunities. But her comments made me look deeper, and it got me thinking.
Then, while watching the news one day, I encountered the Freedom Project and discovered a side of the tech industry that is unconscionable. The FP showed that the practices used by big tech companies, like Apple and Microsoft, to make the parts for this smartphone I’m using, have a life-threatening cost to the children who live in places like the Congo. Forced by abject poverty into a kind of modern day child slavery, they are paid a pittance to dig in mud for cobalt that in turn is processed to make batteries that run smart phones, and other gadgets, tech innovations these young children may never ever have the chance to see, let alone use.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The tech giant’s could set up factories for adults to safely do the extracting and processing, paying them a fair wage, and then they could use some of the profits to send the children of these workers to school, teaching them to be the next tech innovators or at least get work in their factories. It’s so short sighted - greed over common human decency and common sense.
I am going to donate to, and support The Freedom Project (https://www.thefreedomproject.org) to fight modern slavery in all its forms. I’ll make sure young people I mentor realise the good and bad side of the tech industry so they can be the catalyst for change in times to come, so as they grow, children the same age as those being used to dig for cobalt in the Congo, demand change so it becomes a thing of the past.