‘So what do you teach?’ she asked as I worked on her presentation. ‘Computing’ I replied. ‘Oh… I guess these days you must find that the kids know more about computers than the teachers…’

    If you teach IT or Computing, this is a phrase that you’ll have heard a million times, a billion times, epsilon zero times, aleph times. Okay I exaggerate, but you’ll have heard it a lot. There are variants of the phrase, all espousing today’s children’s technical ability. My favourite is from parents. ‘Oh Johnny will be a natural for A-Level Computing, he’s always on his computer at home.’ The parents seem to have some vague concept that spending hours each evening on Facebook and YouTube will impart, by some sort of cybernetic osmosis, a knowledge of PHP, HTML, JavaScript and Haskell.

    Normally when someone spouts this rubbish I just nod and smile. This time I simply couldn’t let it pass. ‘Not really, most kids can’t use computers.’ (and neither can you – I didn’t add.)


    All through their lives, I’ve done it for them. Set-up new hardware, installed new software and acted as in-house technician whenever things went wrong. As a result, I have a family of digital illiterates.

My little cousin falls EXACTLY into the category of witless computer-using but computer-illiterate teenagers.

I remember one incident about a year ago. I got back from Australia and my mom asked if I could pick up his computer from the local tech repair shop that we use for the computers at my dad's company. They're great guys, they have a small business that survived the recession, and we give them boatloads of money and I'm okay with it because I don't have to deal with it.

So I asked what happened. She explains that they've taken it to the shop at least 8 times in the last year when it breaks or whatever and he's a 14 year old boy and therefore an idiot. I asked what they had done to attempt to solve the problem. Her answer was: take it to the repair shop. That is not a solution to the problem. That is the solution to the problem that was created by the problem. The problem is the irresponsible actions of my cousin. Manga boards, downloading and unzipping and installing programs he doesn't anything about, and downloading porn. Yes. A 14 year old in 2012 downloaded porn.

I was angry. They were enabling him. They were spending money (not really an issue but still) to let him keep repeating the same thing. I wasn't raised like that. When I virus'd my computer (my dad's old windows 95 machine) I didn't get to use it until I fixed it. I had to sneak on my dad's computer when he wasn't using it to alta vista how to fix it. So I was bitter...and jealous..and angry.

Fast forward 4 whole weeks. The computer is broken again. This time I get it. I look through the entire thing, forcing to reboot every 3 minutes because of how loaded up with shit it is. That's how I found out about the manga boards, the IE8 he was using (granted he was running xp but still), the desktop full of .zips and .exes named things like "adsdsdf.zip" and "hotyoung.exe."

So I grabbed a windows disc, reinstalled, opened the actual computer up, blew out the 3 inches of dust and grime, reseated everything, good as new. Installed Google Chrome with some extensions (namely WOT with a popup every time you try to go to a "red" site). Then I bookmarked pornhub.com for him. Because fucking hell, don't fucking download porn you goof. What are you going to do? Watch it again? Seriously? You aren't. You're going to download new porn the next time.

Then googled and printed out some easy to understand, step by step instructions on how to reinstall. And when I gave it back to him I told him exactly what the issues were. Exactly what sites were causing what. Exactly how harmful installing shit could be. Gave him a nice lecture on privacy that reminded me way too much of the one my dad gave me when I was 14. I got him on codeacademy ( if he's going to spend 8 hours after school on the computer, make it worthwhile). Then I told him that the next time the computer broke, he would have to fix it. I pointed out the printout and disc, which I had thoroughly duct taped to the side of the computer for safe keeping, and left.

Fast forward two whole months. I felt like I might have actually made a difference. I was on top of the world (not really...I didn't think about it much) but I felt like I had influenced someone for the better. Maybe he would get interested in programming. Maybe he would build something awesome. Maybe he would actually have a passion for something besides fapping. MAYBE HE WOULD BE THE NEXT STEVE JOBS!!!

Nope. Apparently the computer "broke", he decided not to tell us or reinstall, somehow decided it was a problem with his video card, removed the video card, forgot about said video card under a pile of clothes, and destroyed said video card.

We haven't fixed it.

posted by forwardslash: 2053 days ago