What Kills Computer Literacy

Every year, I see some improvement in the knowledge and skills set of our freshman class. They are smarter, more knowledgeable, and easier to teach.

Except for one area.

Computer literacy. It’s plummeting, folks. Every year, it gets worse. More and more students have no idea what to do with a computer. The simplest tasks are insurmountable. Everybody knows the capital of Paraguay, which was unthinkable 10 years ago, but nobody knows how to leave a comment on a blog. Like, seriously, people don’t know how to find a comment box. This was also unthinkable 10 years ago.

It’s the smartphones, obviously. The app mentality kills computer literacy.

It’s funny that oldsters like me are a lot more tech-savvy than 20-year-olds. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. The stereotype of a fuddy-duddy old professor fumbling around with technology and asking students for help has been turned upside down. Now it’s us, ancient fuddy-duddies stunning the young ‘uns with our knowledge of tech.

13 thoughts on “What Kills Computer Literacy”

  1. “Computer literacy. It’s plummeting, folks. ”

    Absolutely, I first noticed this three or four years ago and it just keeps getting worse and worse. One of the latest problems is that students use google docs to write (which is a terrible program which doesn’t even print correctly…).

    A couple of yeas ago I told a class “You can’t do university level work on a phone or a tablet” and the students looked like a bunch of four year olds who’d just been informed that there is no Santa Claus…

    It’s like you described a couple of years ago with windows 8, tech people now are actively trying to hinder technology as a tool to get things done and trying to make users more and more ignorant….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At my previous job, we had interns completely incapable of using a computer. They couldn’t even turn on a laptop.

    There was a window, now occupied by (roughly) 35-50-year-olds, where computer literacy was high and increasing but after smartphones and tablets that experienced a very steep drop-off. My guess is that within 20 years it’ll go back to only 10% of people or really knowing how to type on a full-size keyboard, and computer literacy will be back where it was in about 1985 or so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Who could have thought, eh? Back in 1995-2000 it seemed like the internet would offer ever-increasing freedom. And now it’s all gone to the dogs. This year our freshman class are kids born in 2000-2001 and I’ve spent the whole first week of class explaining basic, primitive things I never had to explain before. It’s so weird.


      1. Again, it depends of the use and the context. Tablets are an incredible thing for many people (including me), especially elderlies. My 71-year-old mother and my 81-year old father both hated computers in the past and now, they’re in love with their tablets.

        It’s also very useful for kids (except pay-to-win games), but schooling and teaching should not be based on tablets (this is the main problem about them).

        Personally, I don’t like smartphones (I have a way outdated cellphone) and I don’t think smartphones are a good thing for minors, but for non-drivers adults like my sister, this is very useful.


    2. The decline in computer literacy is completely normal since they replaced it by tablets and smartphones. I don’t think this is a big problem, although it could be frustrating to teach some basic stuff about computers.

      Personally, I should become better with computers since job markets suck everywhere else for non manual jobs. I’m not interested to become a programmer-analyst (unfortunately for my bank accounts) and I don’t like to program anything else than data analysis and numerical analysis, but I should be better in object-oriented programming.


      1. “without 1985 levels of typewriter or pen and paper literacy’

        This is the key point. PC’s replaced typewriters but smart phones don’t replace the functions of the PC allowing people to transfer their skills to a new medium, they… eliminate them without giving them anything new (beyond more emojis).

        Liked by 1 person

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