Guy’s Ezine 171 – Has the Natural Equilibrium Returned for Transferring Computer Knowledge?

Has the Natural Equilibrium Returned for Transferring Computer Knowledge?

This week I give you more a thought-for-the-day than a computer tip.  There is a natural state of affairs which says that adults know more than children.  A mother understands more about programming a washing machine than her sons.  Even old grandpa can soon suss out if a flat tyre on a child’s bike just needs air, or requires the puncture repair kit.  Furthermore it’s normal for knowledge to get passed downwards from one generation to the next.

Well, about twenty five years ago a new phenomenon called computing turned this natural state of affairs on its head; overnight children knew more about operating systems and software programs than their parents.  The computer age spawned nerds who hacked into NASA, and wonderkids who created internet domains in their bedrooms.

By the late 1980s children’s aptitude for computing had become more serious than previous teenage crazes because it disrupted the balance of power.  Parents had to defer to their children on how to fix a printer, teachers had to beg help from pupils to find lost worksheets.  And later in the 1990s, grown men and women had to ask their offspring how to connect their modem to the internet, and how to send email via CompuServe.

Now as the first decade of the new millennium draw to a close, and we can look back 20 years during which computers have become ubiquitous, my question is this, ‘Do the present generation of children know more about computing than their parents?’  My feeling in 2009 is, ‘No’.  I believe that the natural equilibrium between adults and their children has been restored; mothers can now show their children a trick or two with keyboard shortcuts, and fathers can stop their sons doing the naughty things they used to do.


I always write these ezine article myself; for the most part I offer tips, or put my slant on current computer topics, but this question:- ‘Has the natural equilibrium returned to transferring computing knowledge?‘, is an original idea that has been rattling around my head for a year or two.  As the new academic year is beginning in many countries it seems a good opportunity to test my theory, and to ask did you know more about connecting hardware and configuring programs than your parents?  Do you now know more about computing than your children?

Readers’ Comments

It’s definitely true for us 30’s something IT dads – not so sure for the non IT parents. I still here neighbours talking with hushed tones about their wireless router like it’s the devil incarnate.

I am noticing in gaming circles that the younger generation seem to understand less about basic development processes and how a computer works than we used to. Drastically so. I guess it’s because OS’ are so much more "user friendly" now and consoles completely distance the gamer from the technology.

Still, keeps us old b*****s in a job!   [T.G]


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Will and Guy’s Humour

This week Will and Guy have their own slant on transferring computing knowledge.  See if you agree with their findings.  For example, A computer program will always do what you tell it to do, but rarely what you want it to do. Here are their 10 laws of computing

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