Parents are Dumb and Kids Don’t Know Anything About Computers Anymore

This is a rant. I love rants. The well formed rant is an art form that is under appreciated. It uses absurdity and exaggeration to get its point across, and often times humor, to make a valid point that is ripe for dissection and debate. Even if it’s full of glaring contradictions, it is the kernel of truth that makes it so effective.

Plus, once a rant starts getting lots of commentary, you can sift through the discussion and get a range of opinions that really give breadth to the issue. I particularly like people who write hundreds of words refuting the rant point by point, who seemingly lack any sense of humor or perspective.

Sorry for the digression. This article is my rant.

When I was 2 years old in 1990, my parents purchased a PC from a long-defunct local computer repair shop. It came with DOS. I didn’t give a shit about it at first, but once I realized it could play games, I was enamored.

But installing a game was difficult! My father could barely figure it out, and usually had someone come over to do it. Everything was a series of floppy disks and strange commands, and usually some error popped up and you had to try again.

Eventually Windows 3.1 was released and purchased, and our computer wasn’t purely a command line anymore.

From Wikipedia

To use this beast, you had to understand files, folders, memory, hard disk, fancy commands, and so on. Then you could play your games.

Later, when we got a 56K modem and learned about Direct Connect and Usenet, we had to learn all about file sharing and piracy. You had to use weird file formats, strange tools, and cross your fingers and pray you didn’t brick your whole OS with viruses. And if you did, it was an all-weekend quest of searching online for how to fix it. And search engines were terrible! And the internet was super slow! It was fun!

Nowadays, parents think their kids are computer experts because they can install shit on an iPad. Clicking “Install” and watching a bar go across the screen passes for expertise in the average household.

A couple years ago there was a widely reported story of kids “hacking” their school issued iPads to get around parental controls. The media ate that shit up — “Kids today! They are computer hacker genius babies running circles around their parents and administrators!”

In reality, all they did was go 3 menus deep and remove a config profile. This was not “hacking”. In fact, Apple patched this problem soon after by creating an option to make device management profiles un-removable. Problem solved!

I write code for a living. I formally began this training in college, but I was screwing around with BASIC on Ti83’s since 5th grade. From age 2 I was steeped in all things computers. So are all of my coworkers who are my age. I don’t have 7 years of experience — I have almost 30.

We are collectively raising a generation of kids who have no idea WTF is going on anymore. All of the mysteries are impossible to dive into within the walled gardens of mobile devices and tablets. The fact that even Android devices don’t have an official way to be jailbroken is totally absurd and counter productive. Windows lost any semblance of a command line, and while Apple has a great terminal, most families can’t afford Apple devices, and even if they can, it’s insanity to give a 2 year old access to a $2,000 laptop.

Sure, some of you computer experts out there are training your kids to code and giving them Raspberry Pi’s and so on and so forth. But the vast majority are not, and I would guess that in poor families it’s a rarity. The technology that most kids actually use is making them DUMBER.

My generation had an enormous advantage in that computers were difficult to use. Then we all banded together and made them too easy to use, and now the next generation is at a disadvantage. The 2 year old today who becomes a software engineer will be 20 years behind where I was when he or she is 22.

So next time an acquaintance talks about what a computer genius their kids are, sigh really loud and roll your eyes and tell them what dum dums they are :)