Kids are in Fact Computer Illiterate

06 Jun 16 - 06:52

kids can’t use computers

It’s an older article but still very relevant and I’d like to expand on it a bit.

Kids these days are in fact tech illiterate.

By that I don’t mean that children cannot open a web browser or log in to Facebook, the problems begin when things go wrong. They lose all sense of reason the minute something goes awry and often don’t take a minute, to even read a very clear and concise error message. Instead, as the author above puts so well, call for help from a “computer technician” who’s sole purpose, is to fix their problem.

I get the feeling that older generations like to dismiss their inability to use a computer by indirectly referencing how kids are tech savvy. By claiming that it’s because the new generation “grew up with it”. Whereas the statement “I have not spent far as much time on a PC as necessary to understand it” is probably far closer to reality. Most truly tech savvy people are in their 3040’s anyway. By truly tech savvy, I mean technology literate engineers who are managing data centres larger than the entire block that your office building is in. The younger generation is not there yet in terms of their understanding.

That being said, why are children not “tech savvy”?

To be honest, it’s a forced idea that holds no grounds other than; it was simply around when they were in their exploratory phase. In the same way that nobody really taught them how to climb a tree, yet most can do it. That does not mean that they necessarily understand the complexities of free climbing 500m rock cliffs. Quite the contrary.

The Dumbing Down of a Generation

I know this has probably been talked about for years and years, about how the youth are the downfall of humanity but this does not make it less true in some cases. With every new generation of technology produced, the trend to simplify for the masses grows. By doing this, we are effectively hiding very important aspects of how the damn thing works and what it is meant for. Something crucial, when things go wrong.

Where to from Here?

I have no idea. I suppose for many it is completely irrelevant how something works, as long as it keeps working. Ignorance works very well for them because it’s not what they’re focused on. Neither should it be. Technology truly becomes marvellous when it fades into the background of our lives and simply supports it. But let’s stop this ridiculous idea that children are tech savvy purely because they can log into their own laptops, or swipe left when it clearly states on the screen “Swipe Left to Continue”. This is not rocket science, it is simple reading comprehension which they also, tend to, often refuse to pay attention to (typically when it doesn’t work).

Also, if you want your kids to learn, stop helping them by just fixing the problem and walking away. Either let them struggle until they figure it out, or at the very least, walk them through the process. Which is often as simple as reading an error message.