Are The Kids Alright?by samgimbel on 06/8/2012
Here’s an interesting article from Read Write Web, posted yesterday: Millennials: they aren’t so tech savvy anymore.
TL;DR: kids aren’t living up to the expectation that being immersed in technology from a young age should prepare them for college and the professional world.
I’m sure it’s true. The assertion that kids really only have mastery of social media by the time they graduate high school is believable. But it’s also pretty silly to assume that a largely broken education system is going to prepare students more in the realm of technology than in any other way.
For instance, how many kids go to college knowing complex math without specifically preparing to major in a related field? Math is taught in schools from beginning to end, but kids still don’t retain it at any level that could be considered “successful.” Technology has it even worse: it’s expensive and programs traditionally lag behind other areas of study because of the cost involved, a phenomenon which the article makes note of.
What irks me most is this line:
But the real answer is for the great majority of students to recognize the importance of technology productivity, not just amusement.
Oh. So pre-college students should focus their free time on learning Word and Salesforce rather than learning to become social creatures. That’s kind of like expecting water to run uphill, and kids will never make that change. It would be much easier (but still not easy) to get appropriate funding and attention at the scholastic level and have colleges tune in to the gap between reality and where students should be technologically. Again, the system is broken. Kids are fine.
What’s interesting is that the tech landscape caters almost exclusively to people who value ease-of-use and “magic” presentation of the “right” data. That leads kids to understand technology as something that “just is.” It’s only outliers who recognize how much time and work goes into building products like Facebook, which explains why outliers are more likely to become involved in the tech scene in the first place.
We can learn from this, but we need to ask the right questions:
- How can the tech industry make itself more available and more transparent to kids?
- Are there things existing social services can do to give students a peek into the “magic” of their favorite diversions?