General Question

RafBM's avatar

Should everyone be interested in understanding the basic concepts of computers and the Internet?

Asked by RafBM (100points) July 7th, 2009

I find it sad when I see or hear someone who’s not interested at all in understanding the basic concepts of computers and the Internet. I mean like my Mom, who likes to use her email and her online banking service, but doesn’t want to learn what a “URL” or even a “file” is… I know I can’t ask for everyone to have the same passions as me, but I think in 2009, using a computer and surfing the Internet are probably the activities that are common to the most people. So, what do you think, should everyone devote a little effort in understanding the basic concepts of computers and the Internet?

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36 Answers

Dog's avatar

Welcome to Fluther

My parents are the same way. I think that their generation has difficulty grasping the ideas behind the internet and how a computer works. But that is just an assumption based on my experience.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Your mom doesn’t need to learn computers because she can always call you.
I.T. people in the family are always relegated to lifetime tech support.

Tink's avatar

I’d be one that would like to learn

RafBM's avatar

Just to be sure that I’m clear. I really don’t mean understanding what CPU or RAM is… I mean basic concepts like an application, a file, a link, the contextual menu. That one’s a good example: my Mom’s using her computer since about 5–6 months and she still asks me “Right click or left click?” when I tell her to click the Send button in Gmail. By the way, I’m pretty proud that my Mom’s using Gmail and not Hotmail :)

ragingloli's avatar

well yes. in todays time, it is basic knowledge like math, language and biology.

jrpowell's avatar

My mom knows HTML and CSS.

But I don’t really mind that people don’t know the basics. The computer is a lot different from a toaster. I am thirty and already feel like I am falling behind.

Shit, our parents are the people that came up with the stuff that makes what we can do today possible.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I honestly believe that anyone having even a rudimentary knowledge of how to use computers these days has a skill that would probably benefit them either now or at a later time. We live in a world that is so tuned into and dependent on technology that we don’t know what the old ways are like anymore. I actually had to teach my mother several different things about computers until she took an introductory computer class at a local community college which she said was very helpful to her.

Should everyone be interested in computers? Not necessarily and I guess it depends on the person. I still think it wouldn’t hurt. I took typing in high school as an elective (when they still used typewriters) and I had friends tell me that it was dumb and I’d never need it. I’m eternally grateful for taking that class and being able to type the way I do today. The same goes for computers. I picked up knowledge from friends, things I learned online, and personal experimentation. It was all beneficial in some way or another.

Grisaille's avatar

At the very least, I believe everyone should know how to properly search the internet and dig through the worthless crap.

Teach a man how to fish…

ru2bz46's avatar

It’s certainly not everybody’s thing. I write Windows software and Web applications for a living, but I can barely use MS Office products beyond the basics. I just don’t care to spend the time to learn them. I’ll just use Notepad.

I do agree that if someone is going to use a computer, they should at least learn the basics.

SeventhSense's avatar

Well if you want to be involved in the current state of society and participate more completely, I would say yes.
What someone decides to do is entirely their own decision though. I’ve accepted that my mother does not and will not participate. If I want send her a picture it will be by USPS. I think it’s cute that she can’t even load a DVD player.
It’s no reflection on our love for each other. She has an honest mental block or resistance..Whatever.

YARNLADY's avatar

I see many questions about “what happens when the electricity goes out” or “What if the computer/internet was never invented” and people just moan and groan about how the would just about die, or their lives would be ruined.

It’s just crazy to me. I could care less. I just started using the computer about three years ago, and it took a long, long time for me to learn what you call the basic concepts.

I fail to see the importance in “life” for this skill. We can still go shopping, cook dinner, do the laundry, play with the grandkids, go to the mall. What’s the big deal?

I happen to love needlepoint, and used to spend hours and hours on it. I think it’s sad that everyone can’t learn the basics of needlepoint, and learn the peace of mind and relaxation that comes from doing it. It would solve the “stress” problems of the world. I teach needlepoint, and my classes are usually full.

ru2bz46's avatar

@YARNLADY Though my life revolves around computers/technology (see previous comment), I love to do things manually whenever possible. It makes everything seem more “real”. I like to make my food from scratch (kill the animal and process the meat; milk the cow/goat and make the cheese and yogurt; pick the tomatoes, then blend into a liquid and make the pasta sauce). There’s a lot to be said for doing things “the hard way”. :-)

Grisaille's avatar

@YARNLADY While I fully understand your position, I think we’re forgetting one small detail.

The internet is a massive information resource, right at your fingertips. Granted, there are benefits to doing certain things that are now considered obsolete (like reading a damn book every now and again), but in terms of scope, ease of use, accessibility there is no alternative.

I think it’s a good thing if most people know how to search for information on the web. Not only is it readily available, but it is a conglomeration of ideas and peoples (just look at Fluther!) that can be useful if one is trying to grasp a certain concept.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Grisaille I have nothing against using the internet, it’s another fun diversion, much like doing crossword puzzles, but to say it’s “sad” when someone doesn’t want to learn the basics is just nonsense. It is sad when 20,000 people starve to death every single day of the year, and we do nothing, or when little babies are born with painful diseases and there is no cure. but don’t tell me it’s “sad” because someone who is totally uninvolved in the computer doesn’t want to ‘do computers’.

What’s really “sad” is when it looks like people don’t have their priorities straight.

Grisaille's avatar

@YARNLADY That’s a very fair argument… just entirely different from your original one :]

Of course, there could be an opposing argument made how as we find faster and more efficient ways to transmit information via web, the intelligence level of the general population grows.

If a doctor is able to carry with him an electronic touch-pad, capable of diagnosing patients within an instant, wouldn’t you say that’s a good thing? I hear you on how it’s sad for someone to complain that they can’t login to Myspace or something superficial as such – but I think it isn’t fair to assume that the internet, in itself, is “bad”, or worthless to mankind.

As I said up top, it’s a massive network of information, opposing ideals and opinions – all available for consumption. Something good can come from that.

Yes, it won’t solve our social, economic or political problems. But it shouldn’t be shrugged off into irrelevance.

pezz's avatar

Some people feel the internet is too much to take on at once. Therefore it’s best to let these people learn as they need it. It sinks in better this way.

Tink's avatar

I think they should get hit on the head with a keyboard…

laureth's avatar

I’d have to say I’m with @YARNLADY on this one, and I’ve used the internet (or its earlier forms) since 1990.

It is a HUGE resource, there’s no denying it! However, there are also many, many things that people “should” know and don’t. I mean, basic economics for one – if people just understood money, cause, and effect, we wouldn’t be in this recession, for starters.

The things that people should know or take an interest in are numerous, and will be the most clear to people who already know them. However, remember that in any sample population, half of the people will be of below average intelligence. They will also all have different areas of expertise, interests, cultural expectations, and amount of free time available to learn new things. And some, like my ol’ grampa, will just never want to pick up a computer and learn about it, no matter how much we young whippersnapper use ‘em.

No doubt it would be a great thing to know. So would lots of other things. Like how to eat right, understand economics, do taxes, and even needlepoint. ;)

Jack_Haas's avatar

My wife has zero interest in knowing anything about computers and I’m not complaining.

First, because at least I don’t have to worry about her spending her time emailing, IMing, Facebooking and doing who knows what with male “friends”. She doesn’t even want to know her own email address’s password. She just asks me to check her email from time to time. Second, because I have zero interest in learning the basics of cooking, cleaning and ironing, and not only she doesn’t complain about it, she’s making sure it stays that way.

So no, I don’t mind people not being interested in the things I like.

marinelife's avatar

Should computer makers and software programmers make equipment that does not require extensive jargon to use?

Computers are supposed to be tools, not religious icons.

We demand a much higher usability standard for all of our other tools.

jonsblond's avatar

I’m with @YARNLADY and @laureth. I just don’t see how people managed to get by before the Internet.~

marinelife's avatar

@jonsblond It was tough, but our pioneering spirit enabled us to go on. ~

casheroo's avatar

I remember in 6th grade, we had to learn DOS or whatever the heck computers ran on back then (all codes) I was never really interested in it. I think it’s a hobby, and one that can be lucrative or just enjoyable for some. To me, it’s just an interest…one that I don’t have. I don’t understand it, and don’t want to. I just want to use the computer and let others do their thing to create whatever.

CMaz's avatar

” but I think in 2009, using a computer and surfing the Internet are probably the activities that are common to the most people. ”

Sound like the anti Christ has arrived.

I would throw my computer out the window if I could!
More power to the people that stay away from it.

Bri_L's avatar

I would say yes.

I am unemployed and can attest that it would be near impossible to job hunt without one. Job openings are just not put into the papers anymore.

Clair's avatar

If they’re going to have e-mail and surf the web and especially bank online, then they need to know the basics. The internet is a big place. You wouldn’t go to NYC without a map…
Unlike my grandmother, who I’ve tried to get it through her thick head, but no, more viruses keep a-comin.

mammal's avatar

absolutely goddamn right

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, unless people choose to live a nature-oriented life in the Amazon forest. About 80 years ago maybe someone asked ‘Should everyone be interested in understanding the basic concepts of the telephone?’ About 500 years ago maybe someone asked ‘Should everyone be interested in learning how to read and write?’

CMaz's avatar

Yes and look at all the trouble it has caused.
There are times when ignorance is bliss. :-)

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, dodging real alligators seems more fun than watching the beasts on television ;-)

hivemindharvester's avatar

NO. Computers should be so intuitive to use (for basic purposes), that they would require no training to use.

However every genereration after 1980 will be able and sufficiently interested to know about computers and the internet, to use it with success, due to growing up with the tech all around.

ragingloli's avatar

everything requires training to use.
from the toothbrush (your parents had to train you how to use it), over spoon/fork/knife, to television sets and cars.

Kraigmo's avatar

It depends if their illiteracy harms their life or not. If your mom spends most of her days in the garden, and rarely needs electronic entertainment and rarely needs to communicate with groups or organize with others, then she doesn’t really need to know more than she does.

But I know people who are financially poor, and yet waste $50 or more on cable TV per month, and a few hundred dollars per year on buying CDs and renting DVDs… and if they just learned some internet basics, they could give up their expensive habits forever.

FlipFlap's avatar

Some older people are intimidated needlessly by new technology. I have an aunt who has me enter all saved phone numbers into her cell phone’s memory for her. Whenever she wants to change a ringtone or wallpaper on her phone, she comes to my house. She has me come over and set up her DVD player when she needs something recorded. Worst of all, when I got my dad to give her his used laptop with the intention of me teaching her how to use it, she wouldn’t ever show up for her lessons. Out of 45 scheduled visits, she only showed up 2 times! Every other time, she called with a dramatic excuse why she couldn’t come over. I tried to be patient, but I gave up on her and quit trying to get her to learn how to use the thing. Now she has a laptop, but won’t ever take it out of the new case I bought for it.

YARNLADY's avatar

@FlipFlap I didn’t want any of the computer gurus in my family to bother with me either, because I didn’t want to look like the village idiot. Then one of them told me the computer will teach me how to use it, itself, and no one has to know. I love the tutorials and help entries.

FlipFlap's avatar

@Yarnlady, Thank you! That is something I hadn’t considered. I will tell her what your family members told you. It could be the same thing going on with her.

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