Table of Contents
Any generation that is reluctant to embrace technology will eventually become redundant in this fast-paced world. There is no doubt that technology has become an integral part of this generation’s lives for it enhances efficiency and increases productivity. In the case of youth, it goes beyond the above benefits by giving them the much-needed world prominence that goes a long way to uplift their profiles. However, the issue of allowing the youth to own technology skills while still young has been debated intensively. While some argue that such an action encourages social vices, others recognize the importance. Notwithstanding the negative view, this paper posits that acquiring technological skills while young will help the American youth to become competitive in their careers, elevate the status of the US as a country, improve their economic well-being, boosts their self-esteem and self-image, enhance process efficiency, and increase their productivity.
Competitiveness in careers and world
The first reason that the American youth ought to own technology skills is to enable them to become competitive in their respective careers. Typically, every young person has career ambitions in which they hope to succeed. On the other hand, technology has become part of almost every organization and an important tool to enhance one’s career. As a result, it becomes hard for any person to succeed in their respective careers without the proper technological skills. In fact, the above assertions were confirmed by a study that investigated the role of technology in the workplace from which the MIT Sloan management Review noted that while a majority of managers knew the importance of technology, 63% of them decried the reluctance of employees to embrace (Knight, 2015). Apparently, many were apprehensive of the technology due to lack of exposure and relevant skills, thereby confirming that attaining these abilities is imperative.
Additionally, encouraging and helping the young people to learn the skills while still young will boost their competitiveness in the world. Today, everyone knows Mark Zuckerberg due to the tremendous innovation of Facebook, yet this prominence and success would not have been possible if Zuckerberg had not learned technological skills while still young. Although many people know Zuckerberg due to the breakthrough that came through Facebook, Phillips (2007) noted that the American “had already developed a number of social networking websites for fellow students (para 1). In other words, Facebook came because Zuckerberg possessed technological skills that made it possible to come up with such a phenomenon. By the same token, other American youths can emulate and replicate the success of Zuckerberg but they need to be supported.
In fact, a major contributor to Zuckerberg’s success was the support offered by students, universities, and the community around. While it is important to ask the youths to pursue and obtain technological skills, such well-intended encouragements may not achieve anything significant without the community’s and other stakeholders’ support. Again, Zuckerberg’s Facebook success is a case in point of the amazing success that young people would attain if the relevant stakeholders offered the relevant support. For instance, in just 24 hours after launch, more than 1,200 students from the Harvard University had signed up for Facebook whose popularity was then embraced by other institutions including the Ivy League, Boston-based universities, and every other university in the US (Phillips, 2007). Nearly everyone in the world can identify Mark Zuckerberg due to the fact that someone offered support to attain the technological skills. Therefore, the American youth’s competitiveness can increase significantly if they obtain these skills while still young.
Self-esteem and self-image
Surprisingly, it is not just the success in career and world competitiveness that necessitates the attainment of technological skills. The lack of technological proficiency in some countries may not appear to be an issue, but the scenario is different in the developed nations. In a study that comprised first-year college students from different colleges in the US as respondents, Gross and Latham (2011) found that learners whose Information Literacy (IL) performance was below proficient had “miscalibrated self-view of their ability” (p.574). In most cases, it is almost impossible for anyone to achieve any meaningful success while still holding on to a negative self-image. Consequently, the youth may not even achieve their career aspirations, just due to the lack of skills, many of which can be learned at an early stage. In light of this empirical evidence, it is important for the young Americans to be supported, encouraged, and assisted in attaining these skills while still at an early stage of life.
As a matter of fact, helping the young people to get these skills will cover many other weaknesses, which means that their self-esteem will improve positively. Although not everyone agrees with the suggestion to have the young people attain these skills, studies continue to reveal that the abilities are essential for self-esteem. For instance, Hargittai (2010) conducted a study on young adults and the wider population and the results indicated that youths who grow up with technological devices and obtain skills at an early age are always perceived as savvy in this area even when such perceptions are not proved empirically. Consequently, youths respond by seeking to improve themselves, thereby boosting their self-esteem, which then influences their success significantly. Indeed, supporting the young people to have these abilities while young is akin to fast-tracking their life success.
Elevate the status of the US as a country
It is not just the young that will benefit from attaining the technological skills at an early age; the US as a country will be a partaker of the benefits. In today’s world, every country is striving to outdo each other in the area of technology and the youth play a significant role. While the US remains dominant in the area of technology, China is quickly catching up, and the situation may change in the near future. Besides, not many American youths are engaged in meaningful technology-related activities. The above assertions were informed by a study in which 600 children aged 12 from the US and a further 600 from China were observed; the results showed that many US children interacted with technology but it was limited to playing video games, unlike the Chinese ones who attempted some activities albeit with some difficulties (Jackson et al., 2008). In essence, the US needs to empower young people with meaningful technological skills at an early age to safeguard its international image.
Improve their economic well-being
Another important reason that the youth need to get acquainted with technology while still young is to enable them to improve their economic well-being. Often, young people have to rely on their parents for almost everything, yet such needs to be met if the need for technological skills had been accepted. At 15, most adolescents know how to use computers but the skills may be limited or irrelevant to business needs, but the issue can be addressed by equipping young people with marketable technology prowess, which would ease the burden that parents continue to bear. In a study of parents in the US, Goudreau (2011) claimed that close to 60% of the respondents stated that they continued to support their adult children, most of whom were graduates, financially. Considering the numerous financial needs parents, equipping youths with these skills would reduce the burden significantly.
In fact, the above suggestion has started to yield positive results to the parents who applied in the past. Today, not every parent is struggling with educating their children or providing to them financially. Parents whose children have learned some technological skills reported that they did not incur a substantial financial burden; instead, the young people applied the learned skills in various fields from which the earned some money (Goudreau, 2011). The above findings underscore the need for the parents and society to support the call for young people to have technology-related abilities as this initiative would empower them economically.
Notwithstanding the convincing reasons outlined above, not every agrees that the American youth ought to have these skills. Apparently, some people stand opposed to this suggestion by arguing that such abilities have a negative impact on the young people one of which is that they encourage their exploitation by employers. Perlin (2012) argued that most employers no longer provide young people with the opportunity to earn a living or learn skills during internship but such opportunities have been reduced into labor rackets. Apparently, the young people, despite having many skills including technological ones, continue to be exploited, yet their careers are not even bolstered by these opportunities. In essence, the argument here is that the technological skills will not make any significant impact in the lives of young people due to the exploitative nature of employers.
Furthermore, other claims by those opposed to this proposition is that technological skills have not helped young people but made them even lazier than in the past. The technology is meant to help people to undertake their relevant activities fast and easily but some feel that is not the case. Instead, technology has been blamed for the laziness in almost everything including researching and writing. According to Carr (2011), technology has made users, especially the youth, lazier now than in the past since most of the processes are undertaken automatically thereby reducing their need to think critically. As a result, young people with these skills have not become better but lazy and somewhat unproductive.
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Still, others hold that the attainment of skills increases the chances of engaging in social vices and crimes, especially among the young people. Some of the crimes the young people engage in upon learning computer skills include violence online, bullying and watching moral-decaying content although hacking is seen as the most serious one. Alper (2014) implied that young people have the capabilities to hack computers more than was the case in the 1980s due to the exposure gained in the recent times. Apparently, the fear of youth engaging in crime has justified the need to stifle their attempt to gain these abilities.
While some of the arguments presented above are somewhat valid, none is strong enough to justify the need to stop young people from obtaining technology skills. For instance, the fact that some employers exploit the youth cannot be justifiable enough to stop the youths from getting skills considering that they can apply the same abilities to improve their financial lives in other ways. With the skills learned early, the youth can invent some applications or ideas as was the case with Zuckerberg, thereby easing the burden on their parents. In the study that interviewed parents, 65% of them conceded that the financial pressure by their old children was becoming strenuous while a further 59% stated that they still provided financial support to children who had since graduated (Goudreau, 2011). Such a scenario would be changed if the graduated children utilized their technology skills for economic empowerment, thus invalidating the argument of exploitation.
Similarly, the argument that technological skills make young people lazy is as invalid as the one above. While it is true that computers make work easier, efficiency does not equate to laziness. The argument by Carr (2011) that the youth no longer think critically is somewhat erroneous considering the recent inventions by young people. Besides, computers were meant to enhance effectiveness and efficiency, and most youths apply the technology for these purposes. Typically, technology skills cannot make the young people considering that such abilities encourage them to participate in many meaningful activities such as networking and inventions that could transform their lives positively.
By the same token, the claims that technology can encourage the youth to engage in social vices is not accurate. While a number of young people have engaged in technology-related malpractices, none is impactful enough to warrant outright condemnation. On the contrary, several studies seem to invalidate this argument by showing the young people as being eager to impact the community positively if equipped with these abilities. For instance, Valaitis (2005), in a study of whether computers empowered the youth found that such skills decreased anxiety in communication with adults, helped to raise their social status, and improved their participation in the community. In light of these findings, learning technology-related skills at an early age cannot be discouraged because of the few errant youths.
Enhance process efficiency
Besides, the invalidity of the arguments presented above, there vast evidence confirming that youths who pursues technological knowledge demonstrate efficiency both in their studies and later in careers. At school, most youths use computers to undertake research or learn online. It is not possible to succeed in these areas without computer skills. At school youth use computers, the internet, and other technology to conduct research online, which empowers them academically while bolstering their skills that will be crucial in their future career (Zhang, 2014). Any attempt to stifle or discourage the attainment of technology-related abilities would inevitably compromise and jeopardize the future of the young people.
In fact, lack of reliable knowledge in the area of technology often leads inefficiencies in organizations, and this confirms the need to have the youth become technology savvy. In case the youth are discouraged from improving or attaining technology abilities, the repercussions will be felt in organizations upon employment. The validity of this assertion is confirmed by the findings by Knight (2015) who lamented that most employees did not embrace technology, partly due to lack of enough knowledge. Consequently, the organizations with such workers reported significant inefficiencies, which subsequently threatened their objectives. Therefore, the American youth need to start getting these skills at an early age not only to help them at school but also ensure efficiency in the organizations for which they will work in the future.
Increase their productivity
Again, technological development among the youth will translate into their productivity both at school and in the society or organizations in which they will work. In the case of a school, technology can help young people to access information faster than the convention methods that were tedious and ineffective. In fact, the benefits of technology are always being witnessed in many institutions. For instance, Zhang (2014) noted that besides using the internet to learn, most students used it to access learning materials that were either unavailable offline or too expensive to be affordable to the learners. In a nutshell, technology facilitates productivity for students through the provision of learning resources, yet such benefits cannot be realized without skills.
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The same level of productivity will be replicated in organizations where the young people will work in the future. Typically, every organization strives to have its workers increase their output, yet technology plays an instrumental role in this desire. Without a workforce that is conversant with technology, an organization will inevitably grapple with productivity. As a matter of fact, Knight (2015) underscored this assertion by noting that the managers whose workers did not have enough technological skills struggled to meet targets. Interestingly, many of these workers were American, yet did not have a grasp of why the technology was vital to their output. Unless the current youth are encouraged to attain these abilities at an early stage, this scenario might be replicated in the future, which would inadvertently leave most organizations struggling.
In conclusion, the American youths should be allowed to attain technology skills early enough to prepare them both for the academic success and career and prowess. If the youth attain these skills early, their school life will be characterized by continuous success as they will use technology to research online and access learning materials. Additionally, the attainment of these abilities will influence their academic performance since the research has noted a correlation between IL competencies and self-image that eventually affects one’s results. Upon completion of learning, the youth will need the skills to increase their productivity. As noted, all employers strive to enhance productivity but this plan requires technology advancement and knowledge in a workforce. While all the reasons explained in this paper are valid, differing opinions on the topic have been argued in the past. Apparently, obtaining skills early encourages the youths to engage in social vices, leads to laziness, and often encourage employers to exploit them. As noted, all the arguments had a sense of validity but none was strong enough to justify the need for young people not to have these abilities. Typically, only a few youth engage in social malpractices using technology, meaning that one cannot then blame the technology in its entirety. In light of the evidence and analysis provided in this paper, it is only crucial to encourage the youth to attain these skills.
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