Kids and Tech Support


Another topic covered in Accidental Tech Podcast which left me wondering myself…

The question posed was about how the younger generation don’t have basic troubleshooting skills (or at least one of their kids).

The point they made was that for many of us, we grew up as computers came into being, our parents didn’t know anything about them so if there was an issue you had to work it out yourself and through doing that you learned how to fix things. For us… we are the tech nerds so tend to fix things for other people, including our children meaning they haven’t had to learn for themselves.

Thinking about my own kids and it’s about right. My oldest (who is 12) has very little idea. His first instinct is to come to me and say ‘thing xx doesn’t work’. No details on what’s happening, no idea on what else is running, no idea of there is a common cause or anything. If I’m lucky he’s rebooted the PC or deleted the steam game and re-downloaded it, further than that he’s pretty much lost. I do try and push him to understand what I’m looking for or how I’m fixing things but he has close to zero interest.

For those people with kids, is this a common problem?
For the younger people, how much do you really know?


Probably because the computer has become an appliance. To most people these days it’s just another box like a DVR or Blu-ray player. It doesn’t help that the prices are so low now too. When you used to have to pay $3000 for one of about 3 optional SKU’s you worked hard to understand as much as possible so you could extend the life as far as possible. With Chromebooks and $150 laptops now it’s just another commodity device.


Our oldest, 27 year old (and her husband) are fairly good with computers and tech, and pay attention to technical specifications and such before purchasing and so does our 24 year old (ex gamer).

Our 22 year old, less so but her boyfriend is interested and willing to learn to get the best out of device.

Our 15 year old (and most of her friends) seem MUCH less interested in how things work and (gehenna is correct) treat electronics as a disposable black box appliance. It’s more about which device the peer group are using.

I’m seeing a trend…


I reckon we may be the last generation where a lot of us understand technology from first principles…

It’s getting harder to even be able to troubleshoot unless you’re working for the manufacturer (i.e. iOS). Won’t be long before you can’t!


Even then, the majority of the troubleshooting is wipe, set up as new, problem fixed


This is so true, I see it all the time with the people who I interview for support and engineering roles. The interest is just not there like it used to be, in the sense of I rarely come across younger people who use forums or build their own PC’s etc. And the level of expectation is huge - i.e. they constantly want me to hold their hand to learn things, rather than taking the initiative to give stuff a go and learn by breaking and fixing things.


I hate when Apple tell me that. Throwing away user data (i.e. messages history) is not a solution. If that’s going to be the solution, then we need a way to only partially restore data from a backup. Shouldn’t be that freaking difficult but Apple are too busy building apps to make videos with speech bubbles instead of useful tools to support their users. (For the record, if Apple gave me a way to set up a new phone and selectively restore data, I would do that every time I get a new phone, and just restore Messages. Everything else I use is synced to the cloud these days. But no, here we are still having to restore a whole backup because Apple is too preoccupied to build decent tools into iOS backup/restore.)

Similarly frustrating is when signing out of iCloud and back in fixes things. I like to work out why things happens so that I can avoid it in future. I do not see “it just works 90% of the time, the rest of the time we don’t know why it doesn’t” as a good product. Closed box appliances are only good if they work 100% of the time! Otherwise, give me power user troubleshooting!


Which is scary because for lots of technology there is a pretty narrow range of people who ever did in the first place.

+1 billionty. Why of why isn’t there either a tool to selectively backup or a standard functionality to selectively restore.

My current iPhone 6 Plus is pretty clunky these days. Now that might be 99% because it’s getting on compared to modern iOS… but then I keep considering wiping it to find out. If I could be sure I could selectively restore health data and maybe three other apps it would already be done. Messages I care less about but given the choice would be something I would restore.

(to be fair there could be tools out there that will do what I want, but I haven’t looked into it in a little while)