Kids Can't Use Computers


Every time I can, I try and put more distance between myself and my “techy” reputation. It’s a really tough one to lose. Having it means that you’ll end up faced by a lot of other people’s problems — often ones that they could have solved themselves with a quick trip to google.com.

That’s not to say I mind helping others with technical stuff, within reason. But I’d rather do it within a normal ecosystem of mutual support: the normal give and take of favors that exists within most families, for example. What I don’t like, and why I’ve tried to lose the reputation, is the general assumption that if you’re “good at computers,” you enjoy doing anything related to them.

Believe it or not, changing your screensaver for you or figuring out where that email went aren’t leisure activities for me. When I do that for you, I’m doing you a service. If that’s not a two way street — what can I say, I’m human; I’ll eventually get resentful. And when I’m willing to teach you something quite simple and you refuse to learn because it’s easier just to have someone “techy” do it for you? That gives me heartburn. Like trying to “teach a man to fish” when he’d rather just have you run round to the chippy for him every time.

This is a giant subject, ranging from why you shouldn’t do spec design work “for exposure” all the way to Let me google that for you.

This article by a teacher who also does IT admin has an interesting slant:

Not really knowing how to use a computer is deemed acceptable if you’re twenty-five or over. It’s something that some people are even perversely proud of, but the prevailing wisdom is that all under eighteens are technical wizards, and this is simply not true. They can use some software, particularly web-apps. They know how to use Facebook and Twitter. They can use YouTube and Pinterest. They even know how to use Word and PowerPoint and Excel. Ask them to reinstall an operating system and they’re lost. Ask them to upgrade their hard-drive or their RAM and they break out in a cold sweat. Ask them what https means and why it is important and they’ll look at you as if you’re speaking Klingon.

OK - I’m not 100% with him on all of this. He lost me at “USE LINUX”. But it’s worth a read, especially if you’re a teacher or if you still believe that “kids nowadays are great with computers”.