The Rising Issue of Computer Illiteracy

Prem Rajgopal, Grade 12, Fox Chapel Area HS  & Wynonna Rinkacs, Grade 12, Oakland Catholic HS

Recently, a rather humorous Twitter hashtag has hit the more privileged portions of cyberspace’s funnybone. #Firstworldprobs has been a top trend on the social media hub for the last few months. Examples vary, but they typically revolve around the developed world’s complaints about modern luxuries. “My laptop isn’t connecting to the WiFi” and “Having to use a PC again after getting used to a Mac is annoying,” are two of over millions of such tweets. However, technological problems are not limited to first world countries, as computer illiteracy is a rising issue throughout the world. Literacy is traditionally defined as the ability to read and write, but with the onset of the digital age, the definition of literacy has expanded. At the four day-long One Young World 2012 Summit, one of the most important emerging topics during Friday’s first plenary session on education was the concept of computer literacy.

The world is more interconnected through the use of technology, specifically the internet. As a result, computer illiteracy is now a pressing issue. To Urmi Majithia, computer literacy is a generational challenge. Majithia, an IT Engineer representing the United States, looks no further than her parents. In her view, the inability of the older generation to operate a computer and navigate the internet is an arising problem within society. “For me, computer illiteracy is when my parents are not tech savvy; they’re doing online accounting and I have to write down directions to help them get through it,” she said during lunch.

While Majithia struggles to teach the older generation the intricacies of an online banking system, age is not the only factor that affects the computer literacy rate in developing countries. Computer illiteracy can manifest itself in society through the lack of developed infrastructure.  According to the International Telecommunication Union, 70% of the total households in developed countries have internet, whereas only 20% of households in developing countries have online access. Delegate Alberto Matus from Belize works to improve the computer literacy rate in his country because he believes that computers can act as a catalyst for education. “Every student in the world can have access to a computer and use one to pursue an education,” argued Matus. Through his work at the Primary Wireless Web Lab he “[aims to implement] low cost, Internet connected computer systems for all primary school teachers and students in Belize.”

Challenges such as education, civil rights, and famine continue to persist in developing countries, but access to technology and the internet is becoming more available through the work of young leaders. It remains to be seen if Majithia and Matus will succeed at their respective goals, but if they do, #wholeworldproblems may be the newest trending topic.

1 Comment

  • The True Cost of Computer Illiteracy | Top Cultured

    […] is content to (and capable of) using only the bare minimum. Business coaches caution that the generational gap, between those who grew up with computers and those who didn’t, can lead to friction and and […]

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