[HOW TO] Getting the Elderly Up To Speed On The Internet: The Prerequisites

It is certainly not an understatement that the internet has revolutionized communication for my generation, but at the same time, there are plenty of people that missed this revolution’s train and now they are feeling more and more isolated since everyone has completely migrated to the internet.

My mother is one of those people; she has been holding back on learning how to use a computer or browse the internet for the past 20 years, but now that everyone is just sending their photos through email and Facebook rather than through a post, and they send each other messages through the internet rather than through voicemail, she has been getting more and more interested. Therefore, I decided that it is time to bring her up to speed on the net. So in these posts, and hopefully some follow ups, I will be introducing her to the various parts of the net and I’ll be sharing with you various parts of what we have learned together. The aim is to create a method for teaching those computer holdouts how to use computers and the net and making the internet interesting, enticing and relevant for them using social media.

The internet is vast in what it offers and while a students starting point for learning to use the internet might be Google, for my mom, her interests lies mostly in Facebook. Facebook allowed me to only teach her using one platform what was split up into 5 or more platforms just 3 years ago, it combines chatting, messaging, profile updates, address book, pictures and videos on a single platform. So I decided that this will be our starting point.

Prerequisites

Gmail and Facebook are enough!

An email is still a requirement for setting up your online presence. So, after finally finding a suitable Gmail account name that doesn’t involve numbers – so that it is easy to remember – I went on to setup the account, and saved the username and password in the browser. Upon logging into the email account, I checked the “stayed signed in” so that my mother won’t have to deal with usernames and passwords, and I also added a bookmark that is visible at the top of the browser.

Using this email account, I setup a basic Facebook account, using the information and pictures I already have, and like I did with the email, I made the browser remember the username and password, checked the “keep me logged in”, and created a bookmark in the browser. Since Facebook will be our main website, I also made it the homepage for the browser.

Now since I’m using a Windows laptop, I made the browser run on start-up and removed the user log-in so that there is little confusion from pushing the power button to seeing the browser displaying the Facebook homepage. The Desktop has been cleared off everything but the Recycle Bin, My Computer, and the browser shortcut.

Keep the options limited...

With that I sat my mother down to get her familiar with the laptop. I showed her the power on button, and enticed her to wait until the Facebook – which she was already familiar with its white and blue interface – page has popped up. At that point I gave her a very simple series of trouble shooting and navigation tips:

  • Any time you are lost or something that you don’t want to see pops up, you will need to press the ‘X’ button on the top right and continue closing all the unneeded windows. To reset the browser press the ‘X’ and click on the browser icon on the desktop.
  • To go back to the previous page press the ‘backspace’ button on the keyboard or the ‘<-’ button on the screen.
  • To reload Facebook just click the bookmark.
  • Everything that is click-able will usually look like a button or will show you a point hand gesture instead of the arrow.

With that I left her to play with the computer a bit and get used to using the mousepad and navigating around Facebook on her own before we start exploring the various parts of it.

Do you think this guide will be helpful for creating some computer literacy among those who lack it? Do you agree that Facebook makes a great starting point for getting people familiar with the internet? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.

The series:

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Mom keeps asking me things about the internet and Facebook in specific! I am definitely sharing this post with her! Great flow and simple steps… Loved it!

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com M.Bamieh

    Thanks, hope that she find this post and the following ones helpful.

  • gingerblymyer

    I think I am as far as this goes. Getting my first Mac in many years I have had to relearn some things. One thing I cannot figure out is why when I want to print something off an email, I only get half. But I still keep learning and forgetting but eventually learn. I am so happy to have a computer to keep me in touch with friends, meet new ones and in touch with the world It is a shame when people fear computers and don't learn to use them. They are as necessary as a pen now a days.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2010/12/getting-the-elderly-up-to-speed-on-the-internet-making-friends.html [HOW TO] Getting the Elderly Up To Speed On The Internet: Making Friends (part 2)

    [...] the first part of this series, we created a computer environment that requires little to no intervention by the user to get them [...]

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com M.Bamieh

    it's great that you were able to get as far as read our humble blog. Regarding your email printing when you say I only get half, you mean you get only half of the email? or only 1 page of it?

  • gingerblymyer

    This was first sent to my by my grandson. He helps me get used to the Mac.
    What I cannot print totally is the note from the email. It comes out half of the stuff to the left and half note. Any suggestions.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2010/12/how-to-getting-the-elderly-up-to-speed-on-the-internet-facebook-and-beyond-part-3.html [HOW TO] Getting the Elderly Up To Speed On The Internet: Facebook And Beyond (part 3)

    [...] my mother and I went over the previous two parts of this series (part one, part two), I left her for a week to try and experiment with what she learned and I was really [...]

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