Kids love Linux!

As I read this article about how this guy’s kids love Linux and hate Windows, I had a couple of questions come to my mind. First of all, is this a testament to how easily kids learn things? Second, what does this mean for newbies to Linux who complain that it’s not as easy as Windows?

According to the article:

Here was a five year old, traversing the directories, finding applications and opening them without any hesitation. He had no issue figuring out how to open and close screens, move them around, or change their size. The tool bars, menus and icons were all intuitive to these kids.

What caused the real screaming wasn’t me asking for my laptop back so I could get some work done. Instead, it was the shock of returning to Windows. They went to the living room and ended up throwing fits. I noticed that my son had more trouble trying to find and load his games on the WindowsXP machine for several reasons.

The final moans occurred when I told them they needed to go back to using the family PC, because my laptop was for work. This resulted in a revolution. When I finally reminded them that all of their games were loaded on the family PC, they both responded with intensity: “we don’t want those, we like the little Tux!”

So what he’s basically saying is that his kids found Linux easier to navigate and find their games than Windows. I think this suggests that perhaps there is nothing wrong with Linux on the desktop. (So many people complain that things are too hard – read: No enough like MS Windows) Yet these kids had no trouble getting done what they needed to get done. I think what it comes down to is not that Linux is complex but that people are too set in their ways with Windows. Computer guys like me don’t mind change (as long as it’s not ridiculous – I balked the first time I used Fluxbox), it’s the people that struggled to learn Windows that have problems with Linux.
Finally, kids are also a lot smarter. They have more time to spend exploring the computer than their parents who have to work and then take care of adult things when they get home. Ever since I was about 8 or 9 years old I’ve known more about computers than my parents and most of the adults in my life. Why? Because when I was bored after school or on the weekend I would go through all of the Windows tutorials. When we got the internet I used to go through tutorial after tutorial to learn HTML, Javascript and other computer techniques. Now I’m sure that another technologically inclined kid probably knows more than me. When I get home from work after hitting the gym, I barely have time to blog and do some photography before it’s time to hit the hay. I don’t have the time to devote to learning new computer techniques that I once did. So I feel that if you give a kid Linux and a few minutes, he or she will be just as fine as with Windows, if not (as this article suggests) better off. Also, from an educational point of view, Linux is better as it contains the source code for children to examine and get a head start in programming.

3 responses to “Kids love Linux!”

  1. Thank you, thank you, and amen! This is what I’ve been harping about for years. My kids, also, jumped right into Linux like it was their favorite thing. When I introduced Linux to the rest of the family, it was the kids who booted right into it and Windows existed on one partition for one computer in the house for nearly a year for the sole benefit of my wife. She had to gradually get used to Linux, and now she swears by it.

    One of the taglines on my blog is “Linux: the system people love without 20 years of brainwashing!” Mind you, the kids still get their share of Windows and MacIntosh at schools and libraries, so they now are used to all three major systems and can handle all of them with equal ease… but my daughter especially will head straight for Linux and only accept other systems as a pale substitute. (The day her teacher told me that, when Windows crashed in the classroom, my daughter admonished the teacher “Computers aren’t supposed to do that!”, I died laughing.)

    Meanwhile, people like you and I who remember the old days also have no problem learning Linux – because we had computers around for years before Bill Gates was on the scene. It’s funny, because people who only had Macs or NeXt or Amigas before never have a hard time learning Windows… I wonder why is it that Windows, and Windows alone, seems to make people unable to learn any other system if they’ve had too much exposure to it?

  2. You should have seen the flack some poor guy caught for suggesting schools should adopt Open Office. Someone said that kids will be unprepared when they get to the work world and have to use MS Office. However, as you point out, your kids have been exposed to all three main OSes (and maybe some other fringe ones as you explore them on your blog) and I feel it will be the same with Office suites.

  3. “Someone said that kids will be unprepared when they get to the work world and have to use MS Office.”

    Oh, yeah, that’s a popular Slashdot/Digg troll. You’d think it was child abuse for “making” your kids run Linux, the way some of them react! Anyway, my retort to the “they’ll be unprepared for MS Office” troll is to point out that Open Source prepares you for jobs in a much higher income bracket than what you’d get typing memos and punching up spreadsheets…

    Here’s another “kids + Linux” road test:

    From out of the mouth of babes, huh?