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10 IT Skills that Today's High School Kids Have - Do You? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Randy Muller, Global Knowledge Instructor
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 14:32

As IT Professionals, we've seen technology change very rapidly over the past 10 years. We've managed to keep pace and learn new skills on the job or through training courses. What might surprise you are the skills that high school kids possess today. Here is a look at some skills that many high school kid have - do you?

1. Blogging
Blogging in one form another has been around since the early 90's. The term blog was used by Peter Merholz in 1999. It seems everyone has a blog of one sort another. In many cases, it is a random collection of thoughts and opinions on various subjects. Blogging has become a way for people to be heard in a forum that allows them to express themselves in a "safe" place. Blogs can also be used to offer advice on some piece IT equipment or answer questions posed by others.
2. Linux
Why Linux one might ask? The popularity of Linux lies in the fact that it is easily customizable, that it can be installed on just about on any system and perhaps most importantly, it is open source (read free). Linux is free - you can copy and distribute it without fees or royalties. The source code for Linux is available to anyone who wants to download the installation files from the internet. It is really surprising just how many Linux systems are owned and maintained by teenagers for just these reasons. What you might also be surprised to know is that there is an excellent productivity suite called
3. Programming
This should not come as a surprise - especially for open source programming languages such as Perl, PHP, Python and Ruby. While not necessarily writing applications for an enterprise environment, still, applications are being written. Where might these applications be available? Why not look at any one of the common "store fronts" for smart phones? Or how about drivers for hardware devices in Linux?
4. Game Consoles and on-line games
Not really IT skills as such - but it is still something that a lot of teenagers use on a daily basis. In some cases, modifications are made to the consoles to "enhance" game play. Now mind you - most of these mods are usually against the End User License Agreement (EULA). Even given this - there are a number of ingenious modifications that have been made including larger hard drives, open-source operating systems and more. Some of the on-line games such as World of Warcraft (WoW) and Rift are almost worlds onto themselves and have their own language and "culture". Those who play these games share a common set of game (IT) skills. Again, these are not IT skills that adults might be accustomed , but when WoW has an estimated game population in excess of 10 million people - there must be some kind of knowledge transfer between the game players.
5. Hardware
There was a time when teenagers would tinker with cars - now many teens are tinkering with their computers. There are many things that can be done to improve the performance of a computer and teens are readily adept at doing such - from overclocking the CPU, to enhanced cooling methods and even designing and building computer cases. Today's teens are incredibly innovative (well, so were those of who had the old commodores, we just had less hardware we could work with)
6. Texting
Texting has become controversial lately due to people driving and texting at the same time - not a good idea. Many mobile calling plans have a texting package - where you can send 5000+ text messages a month (a mere 166 messages a day or so). How many texts do high schoolers send on an average day? According to one study "nearly one out of three kids between 13 and 17 years old send over a 3339 texts a month." Texting has rapidly become the primary means of communication to the point where actual phone usage has dropped (though data usage has increased). How many texts does the average adult send? - a mere 10 per day. Now my question to you is - DY knw h2 uz txt msgN? If not, then follow this link and see:
7. Twitter
Why tweet (or retweet)? A tweet is a post or status update on Twitter. A tweet is a microblog that is used on Twitter (a microblogging service). Each tweet can only be 140 characters or less - so using twitter is as much about messaging as it is about being creative with your tweet(and maximizing what your 140 characters display). Tweeting is gaining popularity with the younger user base - just not as quickly as with texting. Tweets are broadcast out to everyone who is following your tweets whereas teens are mainly interested in socializing with their friends.
8. Web design/Multi-media
This one came up a lot and for a variety of reasons. Creating web sites is still in strong demand even though there are numerous places where one can design and publish your own website. This is an excellent way for creative high school students to learn invaluable IT skills and potentially earn some money. Along with the ease of creating websites has come the ability to create multi-media clips. These are finding their way onto YouTube and other sites.
9. Facebook
Ok, I know, EVERYONE is using Facebook - but included in this audience are high schoolers who are using Facebook. I doubt that they are using Facebook to get in touch with old school mates - but rather to maintain contact with current friends and especially current activities. Are some playing the games found in Facebook - of course, otherwise we wouldn't be inundated with requests to play a game so that the invitee can access new levels or features.
10. Tech Support
Yes, that's right, tech support. I don't mean technical support at the enterprise level - but teenagers are providing technical support for their families. In many cases, their assistance is used for churches and non-profit organizations which don't have the wherewithal to hire an IT consultant. Some schools have used their more IT inclined students for assistance (not for the production computers, of course, but for lab PCs). This IT tech support help also carries over to helping their friends' computers (and other hardware devices - think wireless, routers and home networks. Home networks and streaming media are another area where you find a younger crowd more involved.

What is surprising here is not that High School students are IT savvy, but to what extent and breadth their knowledge extends. It is remarkable seeing how quickly a teenager can figure out the inner workings of a smartphone while the adult fumbles learning just how to turn the phone on in the first place.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 June 2011 15:34 )