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Is fear holding you back from using computers?

Some logizomechano-phobics (the term for computer-phobic people) may feel as if they are thrown into an airplane and told to fly it when asked to use a computer.

Of course, this is a frightening experience. Others may be ashamed to appear not very bright, or they may not want to fail. Some may feel they will cause an electronic catastrophe.

Most of this group easily use calculators, and once they realize that computers are really calculators with more features, hopefully, their anxiety may be reduced enough for them to proceed.

Brad Appleby, one of many computer savvy people in Boulder City, recently bought a tablet computer for his 90-plus year old grandmother-in-law and is teaching her how to use it. She is getting quite adept and enjoys the personal interaction with her grandson.

Everyone in Boulder City has access to computers at the Senior Center or the library and classes are available at the library … so what is holding them back?

Seniors with computer skills are more aware of difficulties other seniors may have because of motor skill problems, eyesight shortcomings, understanding computer terminology and other predicaments. Senior instructors can identify with their peers and be more skilled teaching their own age group.

There are many websites offering help for seniors. Here are a couple: www.dosomething.org/grand
parents and www.TechnologyforSeniorsMadeEasy.com.

Someone just starting may be confused and overwhelmed with the technical jargon used. The experienced teacher will avoid these terms at the beginning. Hands-on instruction, where student and teacher actually practice at the keyboard or monitor, may be more effective than a dry discourse about terms. We learned to drive behind the wheel without having to learn automobile repair. Computer instruction should be treated the same way.

There’s more than one approach to mastering computers.

Instead of typing arcane instructions at the keyboard, newer computers may use pictures that one can select or manipulate by merely touching them on the screen, much as one may do on the screen of a smartphone.

Those who enjoy games can learn to play solitaire on a computer and have fun. Familiarity with simple games can lead to group games and then to more advance computer skills.

Medical information can be accessed by computer. If drug prices are too high, reliable sources can be found in Canada for a fraction of the cost in the United States. Bills can be paid online saving postage costs. The list of benefits from using the Internet is endless.

Computer manufacturers are introducing new tools to make usage even simpler. Special keyboards with large letters and simplified keys are available.

Apple’s Siri is a personal assistant program enabling someone to speak commands rather than typing them. Siri comes free on new iPhones and iPad3 (and up). Siri is an acronym for speech interpretation and recognition interface (sorry about the jargon). If you are able to talk and listen, the computer will follow your instruction.

Ask Siri for a restaurant, movie or virtually any wish and receive a verbal reply. The magic genie is reality and the key to release her (Siri has a female voice) from the bottle is in your power. Google has also launched a similar product.

Many fears can be overcome by learning the basics with the help of friends and peers. No one was born with these skills and learning to use computers is like learning the alphabet before being able to write.

When one has the basic tools, this may be an opportunity to bond with grandchildren by having them show you games or the latest applications .

If you still do not use computers and insist you do not fear them, ask yourself how would you feel if your grandchild lost the curiosity to learn? Become a modern day Columbus and discover new worlds.

Glenn Nakadate is a Boulder City resident and can be reached at bcpebble@yahoo.com

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