Why It’s Important to Take a Senior Computer Class

Learning to use a computer is simply one more skill you need to have. Computer education classes are fun and can greatly enrich your everyday life.

If you have put off learning computer skills because they seem intimidating, you are not alone. All the technical terminology can seem very confusing. However, learning about computers is not much different than learning any new skill. You start with the basics and then build on that knowledge.

Today’s computers are actually very user-friendly. Once you are comfortable with a few basic concepts, you will find it’s easy to expand on that knowledge. You can learn to “drive” a computer just as you learned to drive a car. You didn’t need to know everything about the inner workings of the internal combustion engine in order to get your license, right? It’s the same with the computer. You just need to know how to operate it.

Perhaps you want to sign up for a senior computer class to stay-in-touch with those you love. It’s not necessary to learn a lot of technical stuff in order to email your friends and family. You might surprise yourself, though, when you discover all the amazing things you can do on a computer.

Here are some skills & benefits you will gain from taking a computer course:

■ Email
■ Typing skills
■ Spreadsheets
■ Social media
■ Manage finances
■ Browsing internet & more.

Before you know it, you’ll be exploring the world from your living room, shopping and paying bills online and keeping track of your investments. You might even find yourself playing an online game or two with your grandkids no matter where they live.

Senior Computer Classes

When you enroll for senior computer classes, you’ll discover a computer is nothing more than a fancy tool. However, when it connects to the internet via a modem or router, something almost miraculous happens. You become part of a global network that combines a library with a marketplace. A world of information, products and fun is at your fingertips. Expect a lot of hands-on instruction in a classroom setting. Each person has their own computer so they can “do” while they learn. The instructor starts from scratch, explaining how computers work, defining the terminology and showing you how to use a mouse or touchpad. Senior computer classes often move at a slower pace. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. After the basics have been covered, you’ll learn about Windows. What is Windows? That’s a popular operating system or software. It’s how computers became usable for just about everyone (and how Bill Gates became so rich). Here are the best resources to find a senior computer class near you.

Once you understand Windows, you possess a strong foundation in computer education. You can advance to programs such as Word, a word processor and Excel, a spreadsheet program. The next time your grandkids have a computer question, they’ll be coming to you for the answer.

1. Email Your Friends and Family

Why do so many seniors enroll in computer education classes? Grandkids may be the #1 reason. Once you learn a little about computers, it’s easy to stay in touch by emailing family and friends. Use Facebook to view everyone’s latest comments and photos. Chat online with Facebook Messenger or similar messaging software. Many families set up their own private websites where they post family news, videos and photos. Join the party and add your own comments and pictures. If both parties to a conversation have computers with cameras (most do), you can video chat. Almost as good as seeing the grandkids in person. Here are some tips on writing a proper email.

2. Browse the Internet

Learning to browse the internet connects you with the world. Google, Bing and other search engines help you navigate more than a billion websites. You’ll quickly become comfortable using the internet and running searches. It’s not difficult. There are search boxes on search engine home pages and numerous websites where you can type in a question, name or product. It’s like asking a librarian where you can find such-and-such. A few common search phrases include: “What is …?” “Who is …?” “Buy …” “Tips on …” If your first search doesn’t supply links to websites that answer your question, reword the query and try again.

3. Shop Online

Online shopping is perfect for seniors, especially when the weather is bad or you’re feeling a little under the weather. You don’t have to worry about horrible traffic or too much walking. If you’re worried about having your card numbers stolen when you shop online, you can protect your bank account by paying for online purchases with a prepaid credit card or through a pre-funded PayPal account. Browse multiple online stores, anywhere in the world. Quickly compare prices for the same product. Before making a purchase, you can do product research and read reviews even if you plan on buying the product locally.

4. Keep Track Of Your Finances

Once you begin managing your bank and investment accounts online, you’ll wonder how you ever managed to keep track of your finances before. Instead of waiting for a monthly statement or making an annoying phone call, you’ll know immediately where you stand. Do your own research and stay on top of investments. If you have a question when your financial institution is closed, most financial websites have an internal email function for customers. If you’re shopping for insurance, you can easily get quotes from several companies and compare. Review you social security and many tax records as well as your credit score.

5. Write Letters and Lists

It’s a breeze to write letters and lists on a computer. You can use a simple word processing program such as WordPad. You may also have Microsoft Word, a professional word processing program with many advanced features (don’t worry, most people only use the basics, but advanced features are great when you need them). Making lists is simple. You can also design and print your own greeting cards. Search on “make lists online” or “make greeting cards” and you’ll find many options. By the way, if you’re a hunt-and-peck typist and would like to improve, simply search on “learn to type.”

6. Book Airfare and Hotels

Whether you want to visit relatives or friends, take a vacation or travel for business, going online is by far the easiest way to book airfare and hotels. It’s often possible to save substantially by traveling on a certain day of the week or less-popular time of day. Also, airlines often have special deals for online shoppers only. Trivago, Travelocity and similar websites let you compare hotel prices. Researching hotel prices and booking in advance can make it possible to stay in a nice hotel for about the same price the not-so-nice hotel down the road is charging.

7. Pay Bills Online

It’s easy to pay bills online (and you’ll save on stamps). Your bank probably gives you the option of setting up your monthly bills, such as utilities, to be paid automatically out of your account. You can also pay each bill separately online, either paying it immediately or scheduling it for later payment. There are also a lot of free online budget tools you can find by typing “make a budget online” into the search box. Here’s a tip. You’ll need a password for each online bill, but don’t use the same password everywhere. Write down passwords and keep them safe. You’ll find many ways to use your computer. Stay connected to those you care about, manage your finances, shop and have fun. The world is waiting.