At a socioeconomic level, our country is on the cusp of significant change – jobs are calling for an array of high-level computer science skills and few prospective employees are trained to fill these roles. Simultaneously, many older Americans lack even the basic tech literacy needed to navigate a world that’s increasingly digital, leaving even those with no interest in the IT sector in a difficult position. How should these citizens catch up on the tech skills that fuel our daily lives?
When we acknowledge the roles that computer and Internet literacy play in everything from job searches to banking to enrolling in an insurance plan, it becomes clear that it’s time to reassess our tech capacities. To stop what could easily become a culture of technological disenfranchisement, it’s time to help get everyone these four skills that everyone needs in the 21st century.
Saving Your Data
If your computer crashed today, what would you lose? Because more and more files today are born digital – meaning there’s no hard copy of a photo or physical CD, just a computer file – losing your computer data can mean losing a lot of valuable memories and data. Even if you haven’t been writing a novel that’s exclusively saved on your computer, there are likely digital photos of your kids and pets or the playlist for a long lost mix CD that you’ll miss. To prevent this from happening, you need to know how to backup your files.
There are two main ways you can backup files – either on an external hard drive or on the cloud. Today, setting up cloud backup may be your best bet, because even if your home is destroyed, your files will still exist. A great backup also makes it easier to recreate your computer if you upgrade your device.
Choose A Web Host
Not everyone wants to design their own website, but many people today consider a personal website a great way to look for a job, share hobbies, or just keep a blog. While it may not have occurred to you yet, you may want to go from reading a blog to writing your own. And with so many site templates and easy to build web platforms out there, you don’t need to know how to code to do most of these things. Often, all you need to do is choose a hosting platform and you’re set.
Being able to choose a webhosting platform is really just an extension of other forms of comparison shopping. Need to buy a new phone? You’ll use similar skills to choose between models and phone plans. If you can do one, you can do the other – there’s no reason to be intimidated.
Budgeting has always been a vital skill for young adults, one that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life, but now you can handle the process with fewer math skills and more organization. Excel is ideal for making a budget and planning out your spending if you don’t want to use a budgeting app. Using a spreadsheet is especially helpful if you need to organize your finances around student loans, credit cards, or other debt, and knowing how much you owe can help you start saving again.
Make It Accessible
Perhaps one of the most underrated sections of any computer’s settings panel is the part dealing with accessibility, but these may be the skills most worth learning. Your computer or phone’s accessibility settings allow you to adjust visual settings, turn on screen readers, change how you navigate, or dictate text. These features are highly beneficial if you’re disabled or if you become injured, as they allow you to keep working.
Even if you don’t consider yourself among the most computer savvy, any and all of these skills are easy to learn – you may be able to take lessons at your local library or even just ask a friend. And as more of our daily activities – like paying the water bill to talking to friends – shift online, these skills will make your life more convenient and enjoyable.
Don’t let technology leave you behind when it can enable you to do so much more.