Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Overcoming a Fear of PCs

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Overcoming a Fear of PCs

Article excerpt

Are you afraid of computers? Do you know someone who is? If you've grown up with personal computers or been around them for any length of time, you probably take them for granted. After all, personal computers have become nearly as commonplace as dishwashers.

More than half of U.S. homes now have at least one PC, and 90 percent of school-age children have regular access to PCs, two-thirds from their homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest statistics.

But there's still a lot of fear and loathing of these machines. As many as 85 percent of us have at least some level of discomfort around technology, including PCs, says Larry Rosen, co-author of the book TechnoStress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home @Play.

In work settings, two-thirds of people are "hesitant" about technology, says Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills. According to Rosen's studies, fully 80 percent of people feel that workplace technology has brought additional stresses to their lives.

Although the design of PC hardware and software has improved over the years, clearly there's still room for more intelligent simplicity here. In the meantime, what do you do if you or somebody you know quakes around a PC at one level or another?

Rosen, who prefers the broader term "technostress" over the more common terms "technophobia" or "computerphobia," says the first step is to understand that "essentially everybody is feeling stressed out by technology," as borne out by his research.

"You are not alone in your fears," he says. Second, the fact is, "technology is frustrating," he says. Whether you're dealing with less complex technologies such as cellular phones, pagers, or voice mail or more complex technologies such as computers, e-mail, or the Internet, it's inevitable for it not always to work the way you want.

Don't make the complex more complex than it already is, says Rosen. "Just because technology can do many things at the same time, this doesn't mean you have to."

Rosen has a name for this, too: "multitasking madness." By doing too many tasks at once, you don't pay enough attention to any one task. Much here has to do with how time has become compressed in our increasingly frenzied lives.

"Time is indelibly stamped on our routines," says Rosen. "This gives us an impossible yardstick to measure ourselves against. …

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