Is the Mobile Platform Damaging Children’s Computer Skills?

It’s a discussion that I am sure is documented again and again in blogs but when I looked around the office for some simple tasks that could form the basis of a summer-job I was surprised at what I found.

Being a fairly modern business, the majority of tasks were computer related for example, scanning paper documents and filing them on the server, filtering emails, updating MIS software or creating reports on a spreadsheet.

However, I soon found that the skills our teenagers have developed are in a completely different world of technology.

Of course, they can regularly be seen messaging friends, updating their Facebook profiles, editing photos with an app or playing games using phones/tablets but none of these activities were comparable to work tasks in the average office.

Further more, none of these tasks were completed in a ‘traditional’ Windows or Mac computing environment.

The overwhelming majority of technology use, including that of homework, is done on a mobile device.

My assumption was that today’s youths would have improved computer skills compared to that of the previous generation.

We, today’s adults, would spend hours on our computers: building them, tweaking them, installing software, removing software and searching the internet for solutions to problems.

In today’s world, computers are cheaper and easier accessible. Internet is common place. Laptops are smaller and faster. Everything pointed towards an evolutionary increase in computer skills. However this seems not to be the case.

Is School to Blame?
There has been recent discussion in the press over IT lessons at school and whether they are fit for today’s world of work, even Education Secretary Michael Gove said they were “demotivating and dull”, and planned to reform them more in line with Computer Science.(BBC News, 20th July 13:

While I agree with that in many respects, the curriculum has been criticised for focusing on the word processing and spreadsheet tasks that, unfortunately, many teenagers do seem to lack.

In this case, I think the majority of blame lies with the enormous success of the mobile platform.

Is Mobile the Future?
With Desktop Computer sales seeing their ‘longest decline’ in history (BBC News, 11th July 13:, perhaps mobile is the future of business?

Apps are crunching enormous data effortlessly and using the ‘cloud’ for store and processing. Maybe you don’t need a cumbersome desktop operating system packed with features any more. Perhaps you just get the app for the features you require.

Otherwise, could we be facing a skills gap in the end-users of business IT?

It will be interesting to see the work environment today’s teenagers walk in to when they leave school and even more interesting to see the work environments those teenagers create when they reach management and board levels.


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