An article in Slate magazine raises the question: Will kids use the One Laptop Per Child initiative’s subsidized low-cost computing devices to prepare for the demands of the 21st-century job market–or do computers just serve as a 21st-century substitute for that more venerable time-waster, the television? New research by economists Ofer Malamud and Cristian Pop-Eleches might provide an answer, the author claims, and it’s not a positive one: For many kids, computers are indeed more of a distraction than a learning opportunity. The two researchers surveyed households that applied to Euro 200, a voucher distribution program in Romania designed to help poor households defray the cost of buying a computer for their children. It turns out that kids in households lucky enough to get computer vouchers spent a lot less time watching TV–but that’s where the good news ends. "Vouchered" kids also spent less time doing homework, got lower grades, and reported lower educational aspirations than the "unvouchered" kids…

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