Adolescents and the computer challenge

Date of publication: June 15, 1984


Among many stereotypes, one is central: the primordial role of young people and children. They are supposed to have no difficulty grappling with computers from the outset, to be naturally enthusiastic and to learn easily. So, they will be initiators. From a research, based on group discussions and polls on teenagers (aged 12-18) and adults, we tried to know to which extent those stereotypes are relevant. The reality seems to be a far cry from any impulsive, unrestrained attraction, from passionate enthusiasm. Teenagers look at computers as a difficult technique, which is dry and tedious to learn, and of purely utilitarian interest, confined to school or work. Their attitudes are furthermore very diverse, ranging from passionate interest to rejection: a segmentation is necessary, in order to find potential targets. And what in fact leads them to take an interest is an internalised realisation of the necessity of computers, first at school, later on at work. So strategies presenting the computer as a game or as a household aid don't fit their expectations. An international comparison, with Italy, The Netherlands and Sweden, draws more or less similar conclusions.

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