Youth Opinion : Computers ‘Open a Whole New World’

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<i> Compiled for The Times by Robin Greene</i>

More and more young people--as well as adults--are communicating by computer. This is happening at home, in the workplace and at school. Will it have a negative affect on interpersonal relationships? We asked some young computer “nerds” to comment.


Senior, cognitive science major, Occidental College

I spend eight or nine hours every day on the computer and I don’t really know much about computers. The computer is part of my life; it’s really crucial to me. Pretty much all my friends at this point I got to know through IRC (Internet Relay Chat), e-mail and “news groups” (Internet computer bulletin boards).

I have a computer in my room and when I’m done with classes, I come back here and sign on. To be honest, I am not really outgoing on campus. I don’t really talk to a lot of people. I spend so much time on the net. People log on, they talk. Every night is like going to a party.


From the normal definition, I’d say I’m being cut off from people. But Internet has expanded my horizons so much. I’ve gotten to know other people I couldn’t have met otherwise. School is such a small place. With Internet, (a worldwide computer network) you can reach far out into the world.


Graduate student, computer science, UC Irvine

I got interested in computers about 10 years ago, when I was 17, because I thought with computer knowledge that I could get a better job. Now I can’t stop using it! I probably spend about eight to 12 hours a day on the computer.

There are so many things to do with computers. You can play interactive games, talk to people, even check on the news. A lot of people don’t read newspapers anymore because they can get their news from a network. For example, I’m always interested in what is going on in Thailand. The newspaper doesn’t carry stories about Thailand every day but I can always find out what’s happening there through Internet.

I do have a normal social life, though, and don’t think I’m missing out because I spend so much time on the computer.


Senior, computer science, San Diego State

I generally spend a couple of hours a day on the computer. It varies, but there are times I’ll spend six hours a day for a week straight.

It annoys my wife because when I’m on the computer I tune out the rest of the world, including her. I try not to come home and jump on the computer first thing.


When I moved out here I didn’t know anybody. So I called around to a few of the bulletin boards. I eventually met some of the people I was talking to. They became my first friends. Some of us eventually got together for pizza and it’s become a semi-regular occurrence.


Graduate student, computer science, UC Irvine

I spend eight to 10 hours a day on the computer and I’ve developed some relationships that are basically electronic. I’ve gotten to know people, without meeting face-to-face, from a wide geographic area. Actually, networking with computers is just a different method of social interaction. The network is a different world and people develop a different personality when they’re on the network. It’s kind of subtle. Even I think I have a different personality when I’m on the network. You become a little more opinionated.

This is just a different form of communication. For example, the best man at my wedding graduated from school and went to work for a defense contractor. He wasn’t into e-mail as much there. Then he came back to graduate school and now we send each other e-mail all the time. We’re in contact more now and we know more about each other’s lives.


Senior, cognitive science, Occidental College

I became interested in computers in the fourth grade, when my parents brought home a Texas Instruments 99-4A. The company had stopped making that type of computer and they paid $50 for it. I took out a book on BASIC and figured it out in two days. By the fifth and sixth grade, I was tutoring younger kids. There was no doubt that I would go into computers.

I spend a good portion of my time, at least four to six hours a day, on the computer. Part of that is because I have a full-time job as a computer software salesperson.

You have your computer and it seems like a little block on a desk. When you hook up to a local bulletin board or talk to someone in Germany or Sweden, it makes the computer seem global or bigger than it is.



Senior, computer science, UC Irvine

I met my husband in a computer science class. People walk into our apartment, though, and they think we’re nerds because we have two computers in our living room. My husband and I do communicate a lot through the computer. If I call home and the line is busy, I just log on and message him.

I think computers can have a positive effect on communications. They open a whole new world for people to interact.