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Old 10-09-2018, 07:25 PM
 
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Hi. I'm a librarian and spend a lot of my time helping people set up email addresses, apply for jobs, government benefits, use MS Office products, etc. I was wondering if anyone else in my field, a similar field, or in IT in general has had the same experiences I've had.

Younger millennials (not all of them, but enough) don't really have computer skills, I'm finding. More and more, Gen X, Boomers, etc. have learned the necessary skills to get by in a world where knowing how to fill out a job app on the computer is essential. Weirdly, the teens (Gen Z) I encounter can do most of what they need to on a computer. The problem seems to be those 20-35.

Some things I've noticed this age group can be ignorant of:
  • how to open and print an attachment in their email
  • basic functions in MS Word (changing font size, saving a doc, etc.)
  • single clicking vs. double clicking
  • knowing common file types like jpeg and pdf
  • typing in a website url versus Googling something

If anyone else has found this to be true, do you have a theory as to why it might be?
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:18 AM
 
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I suspect that old farts like me understand underlying principles (which can be applied to any particular software) whereas those who have grown up with computers doing everything may (in cases, definitely not everyone) simply have learned to push some buttons but have no idea what is happening behind the buttons, so when someone moves the buttons they're lost.


How many people under the age of 50 have the least idea what's going on in their car's automatic transmission? They just push on the accelerator and it goes. That's great, but ask someone who has only ever done that to get behind the wheel of a heavy truck with many-speed transmission and two or three speed rear axle and they'll be totally lost.


This is why - for example - job descriptions that say "must be proficient in xyz brand software" are so silly. If you know how the thing works, moving from software package A to B is simply a matter of learning a new command set and how the new software handles files. If you don't then your skills will be obsolete in a couple years anyway when the next revision comes out, or the company decides to buy a different SW package.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:17 AM
 
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Really good points!

Quote:
Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
How many people under the age of 50 have the least idea what's going on in their car's automatic transmission? They just push on the accelerator and it goes. That's great, but ask someone who has only ever done that to get behind the wheel of a heavy truck with many-speed transmission and two or three speed rear axle and they'll be totally lost.
I like this analogy, partially because this is me--I would be completely screwed.

With more automation, I guess most of us learn how to do things without learning the why or how. Maybe I haven't seen it so much with the teens because there's only so much they're required to do for school, but once you hit your twenties you've got to put your resume online, fill out these 20-page online job apps, and you might have to apply for disability insurance, food stamps...and it's all online. It's a lot that comes along with being an adult that you'll have problems with if you mostly just learned how to press buttons.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:53 AM
 
Location: Wandering.
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IMO, you're dealing with a very small subset of that generation (those that don't actually own a computer, and likely never have). They've probably also gone to schools that don't have much in the way of funds, and have extremely limited access to / interaction with computers.
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:23 AM
 
Location: God's Gift to Mankind for flying anything
5,374 posts, read 11,287,958 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
This is why - for example - job descriptions that say "must be proficient in xyz brand software" are so silly.
The simple reason why that is sometimes a requirement is that they do not have anybody to explain how it works and what you need to do.

If you know the programme, then yeah, silly, but if you do not know it, but are able to learn, a company often does not have the time to teach or to have the applicant to learn whatever programme they were using.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:04 PM
 
Location: HoCo, MD
4,607 posts, read 8,207,121 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skunk Workz View Post
IMO, you're dealing with a very small subset of that generation (those that don't actually own a computer, and likely never have). They've probably also gone to schools that don't have much in the way of funds, and have extremely limited access to / interaction with computers.
^ My thoughts exactly.

Most don't choose to go to the library to use a computer unless they have little or no other options. In that sense - as Skunk pointed out, you're dealing with a specific type of users.

In addition, unless you visit everyone that is at the computer - it's also likely that you're only interacting with those that ask for help - which would be reasonable why you're encountering people that have little knowledge.

That said - Turf3 does have a really good point. 20 years ago, configuring a router required someone to understand networking concepts (protocol binding, communication timing, IP protocols, etc.). Today, it's almost just applying power and turn it on.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:32 PM
 
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off subject.. im still wondering who the dumdonkey that started the tide pod gene cleaning contest...

Are you in a area were pc is consider a luxury for most of your customers?
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Wandering.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hitpausebutton2 View Post
Are you in a area were pc is consider a luxury for most of your customers?
I'd assume that anyone who goes to the library to use a computer considers one a luxury.
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Old 10-12-2018, 06:19 AM
 
1,525 posts, read 2,512,422 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skunk Workz View Post
IMO, you're dealing with a very small subset of that generation (those that don't actually own a computer, and likely never have). They've probably also gone to schools that don't have much in the way of funds, and have extremely limited access to / interaction with computers.
This - I'm 34 and there's not much on a computer I can't do, although I also work in IT. Build my own, etc. That said, I know people my age who are also completely lost when you get them outside Facebook. Couldn't type a Word document to save their life. They've used iPhones and iPads and have never needed anything more than that...until they did. Tell them to fix their computer? Forget it. There's a reason Geek Squad exists.
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Old 10-12-2018, 08:36 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
30,884 posts, read 56,300,624 times
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This is actually a good topic to discuss. My wife works at an elementary school, and recently was administering aptitude tests that were being done on computers. The kids kept trying to use their fingers on the screens, and she had to explain the function of the mouse. At work I use a Surface tablet, but connected to a docking station with two large monitors and yes, a mouse. I only use it as a tablet when in meetings or on the road on business. In our offices of about 2,000 everyone uses a mouse, as do most businesses. When kids grow up from age 2-3 using iPhones and iPads that's all they know. We no longer have a "PC" at home, just iPads and laptops, but our kids grew up using the old tower PCs. Not that people need to go back to those, but they have to become familiar with all of the current business technology to survive in most decent jobs. As a hiring manager I have not seen people of any age applying for work here that are like the OP describes, but perhaps it's because our requirements include very specific computer skills.
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