I've recently became aware of the phenomenon of imprinting, in which baby animals start to associate with the first moving object with eyes that they see during a critical period of their infancy.
What interested me is that at the end of the imprinting article there is a snippet on the "baby duck syndrome" for humans:
In human–computer interaction, baby duck syndrome denotes the tendency for computer users to "imprint" on the first system they learn, then judge other systems by their similarity to that first system. The result is that "users generally prefer systems similar to those they learned on and dislike unfamiliar systems." The issue may present itself relatively early in a computer user's experience, and has been observed to impede education of students in new software systems.
I'm interested if imprinting affects our ability to interact with computers, and if there is a "critical period" for learning computers.
For example, I repeatedly observed people in their 50s and above, who have not had any exposure to computers until their late 40s, fail to figure out how to operate a computer. A typical example is a bewildered user who has 2 monitors connected and is unable to comprehend or recall that a file can open on a monitor that is turned off, but is connected by cable. A "digital native" would be able to identify such issue in seconds. Is imprinting causing the difference between the experience of these two groups?