Should there be Mandatory Computer Training?

Windows XP
Image via Wikipedia

Ahh, computers. They are the way of the world these days.

I came across an alarming thing the other day that got me thinking that people should get some government funded computer training to teach them the basics. What was this alarming thing?

My mom couldn’t get to our wedding website. No big deal, right? I told her that the address was fine on the invitation, but that I would check it out on her computer on Mother’s Day. I went over, and asked her to show me what she had done. She opened up IE6(OMG!!), and her home page was set to Google.

She then proceeded to tell me she entered the address in the google search field. Our website isn’t indexed on Google, so it didn’t provide her a result. Her friend has the same problem. She is unable to get to our site. There is nothing wrong with our site…

I informed her that to go to a particular website, she just needs to enter the URL in the ‘address bar‘ up top.

Now, my mom is a bright person. She just grew up in an era before computers. No one has ever sat down with her to go over the basics of how to use a computer. She, my dad, and every other person over 50 for that matter, have had to figure it out. They don’t use the computer very much so when they do, it is by trial and error. I can see how if she put every address into a Google Search, 99% of the time she would get it as the first result. She would then just click the link and off she would go to the site. Not the right way to do it, but it works most of the time.

However, this isn’t the first time she’s had a ‘problem’. She has had a few issues online. She thought Facebook was emailing her to confirm her password and clicked the link. Of course it was a fake link and her Facebook account was messed up after that. She thought Facebook was emailing her personally to talk to her about it.Their computer has frozen up quite a few times as well, from malware and various viruses.

I really want to nuke her Windows XP install, and just put Ubuntu on there. Maybe while they are on their next holiday…Maybe there should be compulsory Linux installs on seniors computers? lol.

But until we can force people to use Linux, the next best thing would be to offer free computer training for the entire population. Start with basics. The VERY basics. And if you can pass a test, you are allowed a computer to communicate with the world.But maybe we should go one step further. Show people how to use a word processor, build up their resume, how to download music, share images online. And, just like a driver’s licence, how about refresher material every 5 years. The computer age move quickly! Hell, Myspace was king not too long ago. What is Myspace?

Why would mandatory computer training help? It would save BILLIONS(OK, maybe thousands) in investigating computer frauds, banks investigating people accidentally giving away their money online, and allow our collective computer brains to work on more important things like making all software comply with the GPL đŸ˜‰ I would think that educating people about computers would be a net benefit for our society. It would give people the confidence to use computers to communicate and stay in touch, get an education, research, share their lives with others.

Honestly, who wants to get embarrassed not knowing something that everyone should know? I feel bad for my mom. She doesn’t want to have her kid teach her how to use the computer.  She is completely fine with just checking email, and Google searching, and figuring it out. Slowly.

At least I did my part, and hid IE6, and made Google Chrome her default browser….It’s a good start.