Teens that Can’t Type

As I watched my teenage daughter clattering away on the keyboard of her laptop this week, blissfully unaware of my casual observation, I realized one very important thing: She typed with two fingers.

Now, I’m aware she types with two fingers. This is not a new thing. Since she’s been using a computer on a regular basis (for a few years now), I’ve offered to teach her the ten-fingered method that lets writers race along at the speed of light. That’s the proper way to type; might as well do it right, yes?

No. Teens are extremely resistant to parental offerings of help. They know everything. We are stupid. My daughter protested that she could type perfectly well and there was no need to learn a different way (and definitely not from Dad). She was just as fast as I can be when typing. It was true, too. We tested the theory (because I always need proof).

So I let the matter drop a few years back, sighing and shaking my head. It has occurred to me, though, that many people don’t know how to type properly. That skill is still a bit of a wonder, and proof of it is when people ask me, “You don’t have to look at your fingers when you type?” No, I don’t. In fact, I can watch television and type at the same time, and my sentences make absolute sense. (I don’t think that’s a skill though – I’m not sure what that is.)

My thoughts led to those people who have kids surrounded by computers, keyboards, and technology who don’t know how to type and so cannot teach their children. In my mind, the task of teaching typing falls to the schools, then. After all, that’s where I learned to type – second year of high school.

Casually, I asked, “When will they teach typing in school?” She gave me a funny look and informed me they don’t. In the five years she will attend high school, no one will teach her to type. Yet, the school has computers for student use, expects them to use the computers to work on, and assigns homework that must be submitted in typed format. My daughter will go on to CEGEP (the Quebec equivalent of college) and then university, ignorant of typing and yet surrounded by keyboards.


My daughter lives in a technological world increasingly dependent on the typed word, computer modules and keyboards to communicate, and yet no one will be teaching her how to type to ensure her ability to work with these machines. They will teach her math and economics, geography and social studies, and they will teach her music, drama and art. They will teach her to cook a meal and sew a skirt (yes, home economics still exists). They will teach her to read, write and spell…

But not to type.

As this realization hits me and I am faced with the problem of convincing a stubborn, willful teen she really does need ten fingers to type and that yes, she has to take lessons from Daddy, I hear a noise. It sounds like tapping.

I look away from my daughter, the glow of the laptop screen highlighting her face as she chats happily via IM to her friends, and turn to the source of the noise. My other daughter, a determined toddler who will definitely lead her kindergarten class with imperious rule, is tapping letters on an old keyboard. “I make letters, too, Daddy,” she states. “M, B, E, D, C…”

“That’s right,” I nod. “You are making letters.” A last glance at my teen, and I go to join my toddler on the floor. “Put your fingers here, honey. Then you can make letters faster…”

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.