ID 10 T issues

The next person who laughingly tells me “Oh, I don’t understand any of that computer stuff, I just let my (pre)teenage kid sort it out.  They know so much more about it than we do, don’t they?  It’s all just natural to them” may well get punched in the teeth.

Because, ultimately, no, no they do not know so much more about it than we do.   I can be quite certain of this for a number of reasons.  The most obvious being that it’s usually the genius child who has just trashed the system through ignorance and inappropriate use.  Rapidly followed up by the parent of said natural genius coming to ask me to fix it.  Whilst telling me how great Offspring: Destoyer Of Systems is at all this computer-whiz stuff.

However, it’s rude to doubt someone’s word.  So one naturally asks “Well, if they’re so great, why don’t they fix it themselves?”.  Apparently this is offensive and denigrating.  I can only assume they could fix it themselves, but would rather I did it because I have way too much free time and love a challenge.  I guess it’s all just to do me a favour.  Bless them.

Of course, what people really mean when they utter such statements is actually “I’m stupid and lazy, and prefer to defer to my children because they get impatient with me, and I don’t want to have to understand”.

Lest you think that’s unduly harsh, I’ll fully accept that not everyone “gets it” when it comes to computers.  Further, why would they actually want to?  Most normal folk don’t need to know all the techy bits.  I work with computers day in day out, and even I don’t like them that much.  But in an increasingly technological world, it doesn’t hurt to know just the basics.  And abdicating responsibility to your seven your old is … well, stupid and lazy for the most part.

What you should never do is confuse confidence and dexterity with knowledge and understanding.   They may be able to navigate around the place quickly, and roll their eyes as you struggle to make text go bold in Word, but that doesn’t mean they actually know anything that matters.  In particular, things the average youngster isn’t likely to care about include:

  • security
  • privacy (other than making sure the door’s shut when they look at certain sites)
  • system stability
  • system health
  • doing it properly

Things they do care about are:

  • doing whatever they want to do
  • right now
  • come what may

Which generally means they will take what little knowledge they have and use it to install no end of crapware, bloatware, malware and viral software on the machine, usually for no other reason that it looks cool, has a cute picture, or is attached to some illegal download they’re desperate for.   Things will be added, removed, half-deleted, shuffled around in order to resolve the current need, and over time you’ll end up with a crippled pile of junk.

If you’re unsure if this applies to your machine, start a web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, whatever) and see how many toolbars there are.  If the answer is significantly higher than none (one at a push) then it’s you I’m talking to.

So, for the sake of your front teeth, and to prevent me having a discussion as to why it’s offensive for me to insult your kid by questioning their genius, but it’s not offensive when you basically tell me your kid knows more about it than I do, but can I please fix it, take a few simple steps.  Put a little bit of effort in.   Actually read the options in installation software and take out the stuff you don’t want.  Use Google to find out whether something is safe/wise or not before installing it.  Can the self-deprecation, take a bit of responsibility, and surprise yourself.  The information’s all in front of you, just pause and believe you can understand it.

Oh, and if it all goes horribly wrong and you want me to fix it, just say so without the preamble.  It’s easier on both of us.

When in a more sanguine mood, I may well compile a helpful list of tips on how to avoid rogering your PC in the first place.