Over the last couple of years, I have noticed a significant decline in university students’ ability to perform basic computer functions. When I say basic, I mean things like “cut, copy, and paste”, “copy a file to your desktop”, and “open your internet browser”. How is it that an entire generation, that doesn’t know a world without computers, does not understand these basic terms.

I have spent the last year observing this group of people to see what they do with their computer devices to figure out where the break down is happening. Here are the Top 4 things that I have learned.

  1. In school, when they are doing research and papers, they say that they are opening “Google”. While this is good for Google, it does not help with students understanding what they are actually doing. This is the same issue that many people have with tissue vs Kleenex, or cotton swabs vs Q-Tips. I am sure that this is wonderful for the company being named; however, in this case, we are not giving students the terminology they need. So teachers and parents, please let them know that Chrome, Firefox, Edge are all Internet Browsers.
  1. Most people 25 years old and under are using computers for watching videos. Take a moment and ask someone in this age bracket what they are regularly watching. Most of the people that I have encountered have named a person on YouTube. These are people that I have never heard of and have no idea what they do, but these young people are watching them all the time. If you don’t believe that YouTube is a valid way to showcase your talent, let me ask you, have you heard of Justin Bieber? This is a clear example of success and shows the importance of this medium.
  1. This has been thrown around a lot over the past 25 years. Now, I really believe in the gaming industry. This group is the primary reason for so many technological improvements in computers over these last couple of decades. However, from a business perspective, there is a lot more to computers than shooting zombies and running around the worlds of Star Wars. These games are great for hand/eye coordination and problem solving but will not help the newest generation understand a spreadsheet or a database.
  1. Presentations and reports. In school, this group is being asked more frequently to give PowerPoint presentations and write essays on various topics. How much time is being spent on learning the programs necessary to accomplish these tasks. Often, the students are left to figure things out for themselves. They must learn how to do internet searches, determine what is real information and what is not, figure out how to use Word for something more than just a blank piece of paper, and then use PowerPoint to make it an interesting presentation…. all without any actual training in these areas.

When are we going to look at this group and remind ourselves, just because they have always been around computers, doesn’t mean that they understand or know how to use it in a business setting.

Please employers, when hiring these younger people, take the time to help them learn and understand how your company uses computers. Do not assume anything. It isn’t fair to you or to them.