Thursday, March 03, 2005

Fear of Computers

I was most intrigued with the findings in the Psychosocial Barriers to Computer Literacy study that said “three out of four new computer users retrospectively described how the thought of learning computers provoked severe anxiety” and “regardless of cost or ease of access, fear of irreparably damaging or “blowing up” the computer kept them from acting on any desires they might have to learn this technology”. I would like to know where 75% of the respondents are learning that computers are fragile and difficult to navigate. Not knowing how to use the computer is one thing, but to have a belief that they’ll physically hurt the computer is very interesting. The CTC’s mentioned in the article are a good starting point for access but they can’t address the anxiety people experience by simply looking at a computer. Furthermore, is this only related to lower income?


  1. I wonder if media depictions of computer technology are contributing to the problem. I have noticed that whenever a TV show or movie does a computer-themed story, computers and computer use are depicted in an unrealistic way. People lose valuable files by mistake, hackers steal information and make trouble for everyone, and everything is very complicated and high tech...and high stakes. If I had no personal experience with computers and only knew about them from spy movies and TV crime dramas, I might be afraid to touch one too.

  2. Ah yes, this reminds me of my sister. Who I guess might be considered low income but does have a college degree. She is really scared of computers. In college (less than five years ago)...she would handwrite papers and take them to a typist. Everytime she tried to write a paper on the computer, she lost the paper. Anyway, she is not afraid it will hurt her, but she is actually sorta afraid OF them in some way and they make her feel crazy...just thought that was interesting.