Do they actually know?

I was reading up on mastodon and came across this image tooted by which made me finally write about something that is annoying me for so long.

Meme about the complexity of the internet

As a coding instructor for kids I get confronted way too often with the saying that kids nowadays are so great with computers and that would be because they grew up with it. But honestly I do not believe that. First of all what I encountered personally is just one difference to adults: They are willing to experiment with no fear of consequences.

While most adults seem to be scared that they could break their computers as if they would be so delicate that a simple wrong look at the screen could break it. Kids tend to just click on everything and want to find out how to be able to access some things. But they do not actually learn how to use a computer nor how it actually works. Yes they know how to log in to facebook and TikTok but that is not actually hard. Software has been dumbed down for the lowest possible IQ, to the annoyance of the professional user who gets limited more and more. As this toot as a reply shows me I am not alone:

So what does this mean? For me, it means that the world, while many countries attempt to become more, actually becomes less tech-literate. It means that even the simplest solution is still a hassle for the average user. Going back now 23 years when I was 6 years old and got my first computer I was mind-blown by all the possibilities that I gained. Going on websites on my own registering to different forums each being about different topics. I had no struggle to understand on the most basic level how the internet works and how to interact with it. Looking back at how I had to learn using a computer and comparing it to today I actually get annoyed by the lack of understanding.

I started to say: “If you do not know how to use a computer, then just get rid of all your devices.” but that would not be helpful to me who also likes to see the big advancements we create just because it has become an important thing in our lives. But one thing should change. In my honest opinion we should get back the idea of computers being tools and not toys. Computers can seem complex, yet they are not magical nor incomprehensible. It may not be easy to get the first steps in the deeper understanding of the tech, but having seen people struggling to understand how and where to type a URL makes my hair stand up in anger. For me some things are just basic knowledge.

Dear ministry of education, we do not need an infinite amount of coders when the ones who are supposed to teach them do not even know how to open a website, create an account and login to the same. Bearing in mind that many can’t even remember their password and username after 10 minutes of registering. We need teachers who know the basics and are able to teach that. Learning to not share accounts and understand what privacy means. Not handing out Microsoft Office accounts like candy but instead teach the kids to make their own choices based on pros and cons. The computer- and especially the web-, industry has become way too commercialized. We should not make us more dependent on big-corps applications.

We do not have to use open-source per se but enforcing products of one brand and not experimenting with different companies and groups software we only create a race of human-robots that do not know that alternatives exist and cannot understand how to actually use a computer and what actually happens when tapping a button. I do understand that some people are afraid and actually do not want to use a computer, but why is that?

In my opinion the fear stems from all the negative news about scams and fraudulent activity on the web. But then, just like we learned to live with motorized vehicles, we can teach and take that fear away by teaching how to actually use computers. We do not need dumbed down devices, we need people who are willing to experiment and find out. There should never be a universal manual, everybody makes their own in their head. Computers are tools and should also be taught as such.

Also, another nuisance is people who think that services in IT are too expensive, yet are willing to pay double for a mechanics time would probably lessen. Too often I get people asking me to create a website or game for them and then are astounded that it costs more than 50€. The it-should-all-be-free-mentality can be very annoying. There is nothing that is free. Some people may offer things for no cost, yet they have to spend their own to make it available for free. But asking ones services cannot be thought as a free service and the price of an independent developer is the same as for every other independent service. And when a big-corp is offering for free you can guess what you have to pay with. Data is worth millions and the only reason why is that the average user does not understand their own value.

The Internet thus basically became a data-gathering machine of unmeasurable proportions that relies on the “stupidity” of the average use. Let’s teach them to finally understand. There are no age limits on knowledge, no-one is too old nor too young to learn about privacy. This ship build by us professionals is right now sailed by untrained sailors who try to use surfboards on a giant spiders web instead of hoisting the sails.