The Computer Literate Youth, Maybe Not So Much

Zuckerberg's bad date

After getting dumped, Zuckerberg goes back to his dorm and . . . eventually creates Facebook.

I commented on someone’s blog once that had Facebook been around while Zuckerberg was in school on that fateful night when his girlfriend broke up with him, instead of going back to his dorm and creating what later became Facebook, he would have gone back to his dorm, logged onto Facebook, maybe posted some nasty things but probably wouldn’t have  created anything.  He wouldn’t even had needed to blog about it.  A vehicle for his coed hotness comparison campaign would have already been there, all of their pics would have already been in front of him, and a way to reach all of his “friends” would be a click away.   (All of this is based on the movie, The Social Network, by the way.)   When I suggested this, the blogger disagreed, saying that Zuckerberg may have created something else.   While that may be true, especially  given Zuckerberg’s  immense talents, for most people it is not.

I have a teen son.  He’s quite a good student, an honor student, actually, and has plenty of extracurricular activities.   But when he’s free he logs on Facebook or plays video games, and probably finds other things to look at online . . . but I digress . . .

After our shared laptop was serviced and consequently wiped clean of all software, I asked my son to reinstall Word and the printer’s software.  After all, he hogs that computer the most (and I actually wanted to see if he would do it).  He didn’t.  I realized later that he didn’t know how, and lost interest in trying to  figure it out, because, in the meantime, Facebook and school websites were  still accessible.  When he needed to print something, instead of installing the software he simply printed it from a different computer.

In the end, I installed the software.  Pain in the butt, but certainly do-able.

So here’s a teen boy –and according to the GoDaddy Superbowl commercial, we know that it’s the boys who are computer smart, but I digress (and gag) . . .  here’s a teen boy, my oldest child, who didn’t have the patience or immediate need to figure out software installation, yet he spends hours on the computer.

Has my son ever built a website for fun?  I think not. Oh, he’s quite comfortable finding his assignments and teacher’s notes online, researching, and posting and emailing school papers to the appropriate people, but he doesn’t try to create much, except when he finds something funny to put on his Facebook page or  Facebook group.  In other words, he’s proficient at communicating over the internet, but not creating or problem solving.

Unlike Zuckerberg, who said, what if we made this . . .

Zuckerberg decides to create a ranking system of the women on campus, based on looks, of course

Zuckerberg decides to create a ranking system of the women on campus, based on relative hotness, of course.

It makes one wonder.

If there was no Facebook or the like as a ready-made distraction, would my kid would have taken an extra fifteen minutes to click– next, continue, next, continue and gotten a sense of satisfaction from “Congratulations, Software Installation Complete.”


I don’t know, but I do know that he does take great satisfaction in the number of “likes” he’s received on a recent photo of himself that someone else took and posted on Facebook.  And I recently became aware that he doesn’t even think to empty his recycle bin — an omission that caused him some embarrassment, by the way.

Years go it seemed somebody usually knew a kid who could fix your computer when it crashed or edit or back-up your family photos and videos, or find a document that you mistakenly deleted.  Now, it seems — not so much.   I guess there’s no need to be comfortable with basic computer maintenance or programming when the internet works — or you can just log onto another computer, or phone or tablet.

The Zuckerberg’s of today might have a bad date, go home, spend a few hours on Facebook (instead of creating it), maybe watch a movie on Netflix,  and go to bed.

I suspect when my kid gets his heart-broken for the first time that’s what he’ll do.

I’d rather he write a song.

Songs About Jane

Maroon 5’s
“Songs About Jane”
One of the best break up albums, ever.

Just Me With . . .  software installation complete, no thanks to the youth of today.

Next time I’ll get one of the girls to do it.

9 responses

  1. About 15-years ago an attorney who was brilliant in some ways and really stupid in others was forced at age 52 to file things online. I had known him for years as a client and a friend. His secretary, same age, was a friend of mine. I was their age. Yet, neither of them had ever been online, never sent and email or turned on a computer.

    I offered to set it all up for a price once the phone line was in. He still charged me for his services.

    So, I went by, crawled around under the desks and found a phone hard-wired into the wall. I went back two weeks later after he had ascertained that I was right about the phone line. The phone guy had plugged in the system I set up. The attorney refused to pay me because he paid the phone guy who “actually set it up and got it working.”

    The attorney told me that I did not get them online because his secretary had been using a computer for the 15 years she worked for them! So, she asked me to set up their email and show them how to install the programs she needed to do his work. They both wanted emails so they could use their new-fangled toy.

    Every day for a week, they called asking what their email was and how to turn on the computer and get into their email. Funny thing–they already knew it all.

    The attorney rubbed it into my face one day. He said he talked to everyone he knew–all old, white men, most likely–and they said any ten-year-old could do anything on a computer that he needed done. (hint–he was not paying me) The attorney and his secretary had grandchildren that they refused to allow near the computer to fix it.

    I had just come from a home where the ten-year-old daughter screwed up the computer so horribly that it took me parts of three days to figure it out. The printer had spoken German for three years and no one, even paid professionals (read guys) could fix it, just collected their money. Anyway, I told the attorney and gave him the child’s number and suggested he call her next time. She could really fix things for him. He was not amused.

    After being in classrooms that had computers issued to each child, I found that these 13-17-year-olds actually only knew one set of skills. I had been using a computer longer than they had been alive. This fact impressed them once in awhile! I was old enough to be their grandmother and was substituting at the end of my career. Their own parents could not help them, so they doubted my skills. They finally saw the advantage of a boolean search because I could put it on a huge computer screen on the wall by connecting one students laptop.

    They can hit keys that amuse them and could long ago. It’s like they can do magic tricks but cannot transfer skills to another area of the computer, then and now. Part of the problem is that the head of the school board personally designed the curriculum. No one dares to tell her she has created a problem. The students are to be taught only what she designed. That left out lots of information since she is another baby boomer who knows little about how to search or do much of anything on the computer.

    The computer teacher did not teach them how to press the little antenna tower key to get back to wireless system in the school. (it was F2 on my last laptop, I think) So, they stack up their laptops in the tech office classroom at the end of the day with a note saying what is wrong. Yet, she dare not teach them anything because she would not be the tech person if there were fewer problems. There is no advantage or job security if she had competent students. The huge stack of laptops at the end of the day proves she is needed.

    I got into trouble for doing her computer repair–press that one little button that connects them to wifi. It turns out that classroom teachers are allowed to do that, yet they don’t tell the student what they did so the teacher won’t be accused of teaching computer skills.

    They are taught how to do their homework and figure out how to use other programs related to school. I never thought about their going to another device to do what they need to do. However, if they tried to fix their own computers, chaos would ensue. Downloading a program should be elementary.

    If anyone needs help, join They help me solve lots of problems. Some of these people have shops where they take money for help.

    Sorry this was so long, but this idea that a ten-year-old could do anything on a computer has been festering for a long time…lol.

    1. Oh my gosh! You get it! I’m not a computer guru but there are things I had to learn because there used to be only one computer in the house and if it wasn’t acting right I had to do something. It bothers me too that people make statements like — give it to a kid, they’ll figure out your computer problems. There are some that do, but most get comfortable on their favorite websites. Just because a four year old can be kept busy playing a game or watching a movie on a laptop or tablet doesn’t mean he or she is a computer genius. My son totally messed up one of our computers, which is why I had to have it wiped clean — all because he was trying to download a ringtone and introduced a virus instead. Your point — “I had been using a computer longer than they had been alive” — is well taken. Kids sometimes act superior when they have discovered a new website, but basic maintenance or even document manipulation is beyond them. Don’t get me started on well funded schools who base their curriculum on the statement that — “Kids want to do everything on the computer anyway” — and merely give them lists of websites to access and call it analysis and high-tech learning. Then there’s the basic communication tools not being learned – my daughter asked me what “cc” and “bcc” meant. She didn’t know this, but her teachers require her to have and use an email address. hmmm Don’t get me started.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. You just don’t know, cannot imagine how those 13-yr-olds could talk down to me, telling me all about how they knew what to do. One kid whose father and grandfather worked in IT stuck up for me, saying I was exactly right. They all looked a little subdued, but got over it fast…lol. The kids who learned something about computers at home understood that there is more than one way to do lots of things on the computer.

    Yes, I did yank them up on their attitude and occasionally sent one to the office.

    I cannot imagine requiring a child to have and use email but not explaining one of the most basic things–bcc and cc.

    Now, teachers’ desks must be at the back of the classrooms in order to be able to see laptop screens. Otherwise, students go to other sites. They can quickly and easily minimize the site they are playing on when the teacher approaches from the front. HA! I made them maximize the programs in the tray when I suspected/knew they were on another site than the one assigned. One girl asked me how I knew that there was anything there. I suppose her mother knows nothing so she figured the grandmother in the classroom knew nothing either.

  3. I know plenty of teenagers. None of them know a damn thing about anything. It’s pathetic.

  4. Kaitlyn,
    Part of the problem is that no one told them when they were 8 that the knock-knock jokes were all old. That might damage their self-esteem. Kids rule the roost today! Sure, I went along with knock-knock jokes, but after awhile clued them in to the fact I told the same ones. Oh, and they think they invented sex, too….lol. My daughter cannot understand why her son is like he is. Well, I tried to tell her all along and she said she had her own method of rearing children, so she reared him and cannot understand why he has no work ethic, is clueless about things she knew when she was 17. sigh

  5. Great post and so true! If only they actually taught useful things to kids in school (me included!) like how to install programmes, virus software etc lol

    1. Thank you. There is a definite gap in what kids are taught verses how they use a computer.

      1. Dear Just Me With…,

        I believe I am a the one most technologicly savvy 10 year olds in my school. I know much more than my peers who are so stupid with computers and think that they know so much and boast that they “know what a USB is and know about the Wi-Fi’s”. I am 10 years old and actualy know more than my 17 year old sister. If you don’t belive me I know how to install Linux or Windows on a Mac to make a Hackintosh, use an arduino board with multicolour LED’s to make a light display and much more. The only other kid I know who is like me in my school is a 7th grader called Sam. I cant belive that no-one knows how to use a computer!

        – James

      2. Hello James, thanks for writing. I believe you! And I think it’s great. I hope that you can teach your classmates some stuff and let them know that there are more things to do with or on the computer than checking social media sites. I’m so happy when I hear of kids who know, really know, computers. Keep it up, it’ll take you far.

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