What Should Computer Noobs Be Taught First? [We Ask You]

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Yaara recently wrote an article detailing six basic tech skills everybody should possess. It’s a great read, both for those just starting out on their journey into geekdom and for those of us who merely know computer noobs. And we all know at least one at some point in our lives, don’t we? Whether it’s an elderly parent eager to Skype or a child cajoled into signing up to Facebook.

For those who already identify as geeks, using a computer, online and offline, is second nature. The experience holds few surprises, and it’s only augmented by the kind of awesome stuff we learn from MakeUseOf and sites like it. But for noobs, those sweet, innocent creatures, being faced with a computer for the first time is a daunting prospect. Just where do you begin?

This Week’s Question…

What Should Computer Noobs Be Taught First?

I cannot actually remember my first exposure to computers, and I’m sure many of you reading this are the same. Learning how to use one was a gradual process, and I’m still learning today. But the basics are lurking in my brain so deeply I may as well have been born with them intact. This isn’t the case for younger or older people who are presented with this very complex machine for the first time.

In this week’s We Ask You column, we want you to suggest the first thing you feel a computer noob should be taught. Let’s assume the computer is switched on and running an operating system. And that everybody knows what the keyboard and mouse (or touchscreen) are. Then what?

Do you head online first? And if so what website do you direct them to straight out of the gate? Do you explain Wi-Fi or security settings? Do you warn them about clicking on blind links and the dangers of malware that lurk around every corner? Is email the most obvious lesson to begin with? Or is social networking a more important skill to pass on?

Tell us what you think. You may even have some experience in this field, having taught a friend or family member the basics of using a computer. Is it something that cannot be taught in any big way, instead needing to be learned slowly and methodically? Let us know your thoughts and feelings on the subject matter at hand.

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Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted ‘Comment Of The Week’, getting their name up in lights, the respect of other readers, and 150 MakeUseOf points to use for Rewards or Giveaways (as long as they are registered when making said comment). What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to start a conversation. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Michelle Hofstrand

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Comments (104)
  • AP

    One can also try ‘Open Office’, its also an open source software.

  • Freecycle Me

    My personal advice would be don’t learn alone. There are more people who know how to use computers than not so fin a friend, someone you trust, and who does not take over, then invite them round for coffee to show you some of the basics. They would have an email address and this would give an immediate person to contact and get to use the software. If someone is too shy, reclusive or burnt all their bridges, then most local colleges or libraries give sessions on how to learn computing. It is much better to share the experience. So – phone a friend, ask the audience and share the problems 50/50 :D

  • John Wilkers

    The first and most important thing to learn new users is that they should make backups of their valuable data. The second thing to learn new users is that they should make backups of their valuable data. The third thing to learn new users is that they shoul d make backups of their valuable data. The fourth thing they should learn is WHY they must make backups of their valuable data.
    You should not learn them something new if they dont get the first, second, third and fourth thing. Period..

  • bonioloff

    Learn typing, because when you already familiar to type with 2 fingers, it is a lot difficult to learn 10 fingers :D

  • Roger Leer

    Your work is fantastic! A teriffic source for accurate digestible information. I am so happy to have found your site.

    First Lessons:

    1. Cut, paste, copy, ect.
    2. System Restore.
    3. Backup.
    4. Virus and Malware removal.
    5. CYA when sharing personal information.
    6. Computers are smarter than you are! They never forget.
    7. Never write or do anything online that you wouldn’t want your mother to see or read.
    8. Keep your ego in check.
    9. Have fun and try to expand your scope of thinking.
    10. Respect yourself and all others you meet online. Remember we all bleed the same and share similar pain thresholds.
    11. One more for the road. Try voice recognition. It is slow and tedious at the start, but you can really become a much better writer and PC user. Caution: Don’t be cheap, get a very good microphone, it really makes a BIG difference.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.