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Fear of technology - 1990s phobia.

Fear of technology may be the phobia of the 1990s, according to a nationwide survey by Dell Computer Corp. Despite the U.S.'s long-standing lead in technical innovation, 55% of all Americans remain resistant--even phobic--when it comes to taking advantage of technology in their everyday lives. One-fourth of all adults never have used a computer, set a VCR to record a television show, or even programmed favorite stations on a car radio.

Technical temperaments vary across generations, with teens more technically literate than adults. Ninety-two percent of teens are comfortable using a variety of technical devices, from answering machines and VCRs to compact-disc players and computers, compared with 74% of adults.

Adults are more anxious about using computers than many other technical products--23% are nervous about operating a computer on their own, more than three times the number of teens who are uneasy in front of a keyboard. In contrast, teens are more confident using a computer than utilizing an answering machine.

Despite their differences, teens and adults agree that computers can save them time. Nevertheless, 32% of all adults are intimidated by computers and afraid they might inflict damage when operating them.

According to Dan Gookin, author of more than 30 books that seek to build greater understanding between individuals and machines, "One of the main reasons many people are paranoid about computers is that no one in the industry has bothered to help them understand how simple the technology is to use and what computers can specifically do for them. Most computer manuals are as difficult to understand as a graduate-level course in quantum physics." He believes the fast-accelerating gap between invention and understanding is largely to blame for the spread of technophobia. "Technology has simply passed many people by."
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Dec 1, 1993
Words:293
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