Kids today can’t troubleshoot or know how to “use” computers

Some of those examples are just the kind of ignorance that has always been around, like not knowing to check to see if the monitor is plugged in or if the ethernet cable is plugged in. Those people would always have run into problems no matter what year it was. They are the ones who might have thought that the CD drive was a cup holder.

My trouble-shooting skills have greatly degraded. I’ve gone from opening up PCs to replace parts, booting off a disk to run Wing Commander, using Task Manager on at least a weekly basis to tweak settings, to just turning on my PC and expecting everything to work without any intervention on my part.

Once Windows changed from the W95 interface to the newer one with W7 or whatever it was, I started going downhill.

But it’s ok. All that stuff I used to be able to do isn’t as valuable as it used to be. PCs are much cheaper now. They don’t evolve as quickly so a gaming PC I buy today will probably be good for gaming five years from now, unlike days past when yearly upgrades seemed necessary. If I do need to work on my PC to make it better for gaming, it probably means I should get a new graphics card. I can buy one and pay someone to put it in or can probably still do it myself.

A kid puts her hand up in my lesson. ‘My computer won’t switch on,’ she says, with the air of desperation that implies she’s tried every conceivable way of making the thing work. I reach forward and switch on the monitor, and the screen flickers to life, displaying the Windows login screen. She can’t use a computer.


From that blog:

Given the thrust of the piece is ‘everyone dumber now grrr’… I found this funny as these ratios are identical. So worst case scenario, nothing much has changed, in numerical terms, regarding ‘true seers of the machine spirit’ or whatever we’re labelling ourselves. :)

So is it just an observation that private computer ownership has increased? Given that the author discounts all mobile devices as mere toys with no user control it feels a bit sleight-of-hand to also complain that deep knowledge of computing hasn’t increased alongside. I certainly don’t think these devices need anywhere near as much ‘maintenance knowledge’ as those craptastic early days of Win95, so I don’t find it surprising that people haven’t had to learn that (nor do I think that’s a bad thing).

I think there’ll always be the contingent of people that are in it purely for the aesthetic rather than deep understanding - 20 years ago that’ll have been people who played Playstation etc. exclusively. Today it’s people with iPhones (and Playstations, still); knowing the intricacies of PCs and how to install an O/S just doesn’t factor into those experiences, then or now.

For me, when I was in my early/mid teens all I desperately wanted was a SNES, Megadrive, etc. but we were poor and thus I ended up with a crappy 386 my dad’s work was throwing out. A glorified hunk of e-waste 5 years past its use-by date. It didn’t really feel like it at the time, but trying to get it to run anything remotely cool* was a unique and privileged learning experience.

But if I’d could’ve traded it for a console back then, I’d have done so in a heartbeat.

Anyway, I do still think things have improved. If nothing else, there are more girls/women delving into the tech side these days - I maybe knew one girl, back in the day, who owned a SNES/Playstation (or, at least, wasn’t afraid to talk about it) vs practically every teen boy.

So, not all bad! At least you’re never gonna be short on work as a techie, that’s for sure. Plus more people know how to type these days.

* I remember running Doom on it, but in low detail mode, and with the screen area shrank down to the size of a postage stamp. It still became a semi-slideshow when the action got too hot. However, it was still WAY cooler than Mario.

I learned everything about computers when I tried to play games like Wing Commander. Had to learn how to use memory extenders etc. Next came learning how to configure your modem.

Kids just dont need to learn how to do those things today. You need to be motivated to learn how to troubleshoot and they can simply plug in their console.

Now they do know how to use their phones. They run rings around me in that department. Modern Phones are computers IMHO

It’s because they all use iPads and smart phones. That article is stupid.

That article is from 2013. Hardly were any smartphones during that era.

So not “today” then.

I didn’t see that. I wouldn’t have even replied if I had.

Even if that article is old kids have the ability to learn if they have the desire to do so.

Given my kid’s ability to evade every form of parental controls ever invented, I’d say they know how to use computers just fine.

My wife did some teaching assistance last year at a science university. Yeah, those stories sound about right. The first couple of weeks of practical programming classes are for complicated troubleshooting, like how to install an IDE, and what are files.
Which would be fine, except, of course, these are the future people who shouldn’t think they are and should be unknowable appliances, even if they don’t care to understand them too much personally. It will eventually be on them to appease the machine gods, and we’re not exactly leaving them the best of IT infrastructure.

Welp, it’s official. QT3 has become a grumpy old person forum.

“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.”

Amusing article, but the writer has a weirdly high threshold for “knowing how to use a computer”.

In business or eduction situations, I would expect the average users to understand their specific applications and then browser/Office on a basic level.

It’s the applications that are their tools and that matter - the hardware and infra and OS should Just Work and not be any of their concern.

I am forced to wonder whether the author thinks that at any point, in any generation, kids “knew how to use computers”.

Because I’m pretty sure the answer is no. Most people have never had those kinds of skills or knowledge.

Why would anyone know what are the county’s proxy server settings. I assume they have a confluence page about it hidden somewhere? That’s what our IT always say when you ask them for help.


There’s an on-going myth in education circles about “digital natives.” The idea is that since students today (referring to both K-12 & traditional-aged college students) have grown up with computers and related tech, that means they know how to use it. That’s clearly not true (source: full-time college instructor since 2012), but the myth remains. (I feel it’s less prevalent than it used to be, but I may be mistaken.)

It doesn’t mean anything about “kids these days,” just that quality instruction is still needed for effective and efficient use of tech.

I’ve even heard that some young people don’t have an intuitive grasp of filesystems because they grew up without navigating through folder systems. Millennials do seem to be in the sweet spot for having grown up alongside technology, learning as the industry itself did. I even learned to read on computers in the Windows 3.0/3.1 era, but before that, I knew how to load Links 386 and Jazz Jackrabbit in DOS.

But if I’m real honest, I didn’t learn much more than that about the command line until I went back to school for computer science. Only took me 3 decades.