Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

In general, people are becoming better informed, but what's happening is that more and more people are using more and more technology.

I was wondering if computer users are getting smarter or is everything the same as it was years ago? This would be based on the questions that you get (that I do not see here). EX. everybody should recognize the fake antivirus, by now, as fake, after ten years of seeing that.

In this excerpt from Answercast #37, I look at the state of computer users today: people are getting smarter, but there are more new users!

Smarter people

The short answer is no.

I don't want to say people aren't getting smarter because I do believe that, in general, people are becoming better informed. What's happening is that more and more people are using more and more technology. So more and more people are being exposed to things for the first time – that you and I perhaps saw ten years ago.

  • So, no, not everybody recognizes fake anti-virus.

  • Not everybody recognizes all of the different warning signs that you and I might take for granted.

That's one of the reasons that sites like Ask Leo! exist. It's one of the reasons I have such a large resource of reference material that I leave on the site, because many of the articles that I wrote seven or eight years ago are actually still very valid today: if even only at a conceptual level.

Some of the articles may be very specific to, say, Windows XP eight years ago, but the concepts that people are dealing with (anti-malware, fake anti-virus tools, infections, all that kind of stuff) are all very, very current and very much similar to what we've been seeing for the past ten years.

The fake prince

One of the items that continually amazed me until I spoke to the owners of the site (they happen to be friends of mine) is what you and I commonly refer to as the Nigerian scam.

"The prince in Africa is trying to get out of the country, who just needs your help to get out his millions of dollars that he will then share with you once he reaches this country. Oh, and by the way, he just needs a few hundred dollars of your money in order to start the process."

That scam is older than technology in many ways. Before it was spreading around on email, it was spreading on fax machines. It was spreading around on paper. So that old, old scam has been around for gosh, twenty, thirty, forty years, maybe and it is still nabbing people today.

  • I do believe, I honestly do believe, that by-and-large the people we are educating are getting smarter about how they use technology.

But like I said, there are so many people using technology: either as new users or as first time users who have never encountered these kinds of things. These are things are going to be problems as long as there are new users – and there are new users every single day.

Article C5618 - July 23, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

1 Comment
November 30, 2012 8:46 PM

I agree with you that people aren't more savvy then 5 or even 10+ years ago. Scan any help forums including here and you'll see the same questions that has been asked time and time again.

A good example is smartphones - people may be technologically aware but many are ignorant about security and threat of malware by using smartphones. Increasingly, people are using them to send/read emails, pay online or check their accounts online, browsing and a lot of them don't have any form of security or protecting their data on their smartphones.

So yup, technologically aware, but painfully ignorant of security.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.