The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 17, 2013

Compute this

The Register-Herald

— For many years, there has been much chatter about West Virginians having increased access to the Internet.

It would help us be better connected to the world around us.

Education would benefit in this “Information Age.”

Even our economy could benefit with our businesses having an additional outlet for commerce and research.

Yet, a new federal study says about 35.5 percent of West Virginia households currently own a computer.

That’s the second-lowest rate in the nation, with Mississippi coming in last at 35.4. Washington state is most tech-savvy, with 85 percent of its population owning a computer.

The study by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration also says West Virginia has the eighth-lowest Internet adoption rate with about 59 percent of West Virginia households subscribing to high-speed Internet, falling well below the national rate is 70 percent.

West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council has been working to expand high-speed Internet access across West Virginia. Dan O’Hanlon, director of the WVBDC, suggests the state could work with nonprofit groups to increase computer ownership.

Some have suggested that West Virginia’s aging demographics are reflected in the low computer ownership statistics.

So why not bring our elderly folks into the modern age?

They would benefit greatly from the increased accessibility to services available to them.

They might even enjoy their golden years a bit more with added communication, adding a key component to their lives — healthy interaction with far off family and friends.

Our intentions have been good, but more must be done to bring our state into the 21st century.

Politicians of a century ago may have looked to put “a chicken in every pot” of their constituents.

But our leaders of this age must look beyond the stovetop. A laptop in most every home could very well lead to a hearty meal and more.

Perhaps even chicken.