Monday, November 12, 2012


Do You Have A Safety Net Around The "Net"?

..The net meaning the internet. Back about five years ago, my mother in law inherited an old computer of ours that we weren't using anymore. She had always talked about how she wanted to be able to send an email to some friends of hers but didn't know how. Teaching an elderly person about how to use a computer in this day and age is very complicated. I found myself not being able to articulate things in a way that she would understand. For example how do you tell a person who's only seen a computer on a TV screen to open their browser and type an address in the address bar? Its a complete foreign language to one not accustomed to anything past calculators. My mother in law got the "PC's for Dummies" collects dust on her desk...I'm not even sure if she's looked at it much. Still to this day I have to remind her about simple things one should know if they have a computer. Desktop... task bar... start menu... browser... Control Panel... Right clicking... double clicking and even what a "window" is.  She is an IT person's worst nightmare. But its not her fault. She just doesn't know and it does go way over her head, but all she wants to do is join the 21st century and be able to communicate with her friends in an instant just like everyone else.

The only problem with that is, all the internet preditors lurking out there. Several times we've had to rid her computer of viruses, adware, malware and she's even had to get a brand new computer because the one we gave her was simply too old to keep up with today's high memory software.

So how do you go about teaching an elderly person how to use a computer? Well its sort of the same way you teach a child how to use a computer. First thing and foremost you need to protect them before they even get going. Make sure the most up to date virus protection software is installed on their computer. Teach them about internet safety. Tell them what to look for. My mother in law had no clue. Anything shiny or sparkly she clicked on. She had to have "smilies" that she could insert into emails and she forwarded absolutely everything to me, which I soon knew to delete as soon as it arrived in my inbox, especially if it had an attachment.

Over the last five years, she's a little smarter when it comes to the computer, but it was a hard lesson to learn when her bank account got cleaned out after purchasing game tokens on facebook. It was quite the panicky ordeal. I felt so bad for her because even though we warned her not to store her bank account information on facebook, I dont' think she grasped the entirety of how unsafe the internet was until that happened. Thankfully that was an eye opener for her.

Have you ever needed to teach someone how to use a computer? I find that patience is a virtue and the best way is visually. Just like if you were to sit a child in front of the computer, "hands-on" is the best way to do it. Using technical terms will dumb found them and a child.

What is your experience with trying to protect someone from the dangers of the World Wide Web? 

Photobucket Author: Heather
Wife, Mother of Two Boys, Coffee Addict, Pinterest obsessed, an aspiring writer balancing every day life of raising a family and blogging about it.

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