Yesterday, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) posted its latest commercial. The non-profit has gotten national television advertising time donated by some of the top networks, including CNN. The commercial, which is embedded below, shows kids learning to use guns. “Children are fast learners. Give them the right tools,” it is written over the images as the piano plays “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” The clip is nothing short of powerful. Update: OLPC says this commercial will not run on television networks. I have been a long time fan of One Laptop per Child (OLPC). For readers that follow this blog closely, you know that I worked to get LAPTOP Magazine to donate 30 of OLPC’s XO laptops to a village in Mali. I have seen first hand that laptops, especially the XO, are perfect education tools for the developing world. They give children access to the world’s encyclopedia and to a tool that can further their minds without having to rely on schools or teachers. But the powerful commercial has me confused. Will it give viewers the impression that giving an XO to a child in need will change the violence in a nation or substitute the guns and child prostitution for learning? The solutions to those serious social problems go beyond distributing small laptops. Laptops are not the answer to guerrilla warfare or child prostitution; if those problems aren’t solved by other means the laptops could be just a tool and an enabler in the fight. On the other hand, XO laptops are a step in the right direction. They give children an escape from the world around them and they can help in self-education. The ad also finally takes on the major criticism of the project, that kids need food and medication. It is clear from the ad that kids need to learn using the right tools. I have been polling the rest of the LAPTOP Magers in the office on their reactions. Some thought it was the best argument OLPC has made yet, others were put off by the sell. What is your feeling on the short ad? Let me know in the comments.