I often struggle to explain to my father how to use the computer, or when i try to explain to my grandmother how to accomplish certain things on her smartphone, because they don't seem to understand the basic principles of digital interfaces.

For example, i believe my father doesn't understand the concept of downloading a file from the internet through the browser, saving it in a certain location and retrieving it from the location through the file explorer.

He also doesn't seem to understand that smartphone apps follow logical rules in the menu design and that you can just move back with the arrow, instead of closing the whole app and starting in the beginning.

Of course i'm speaking from a very privileged point, because i grew up with such concepts and had a lot of (free)time to adapt to the technology, but i think my father and my grandma could profit heavily from understanding these concepts and then applying their knowledge when trying to achieve something new.

So my question is: Are there resources or techniques to teach non digital natives how to interact with digital interfaces on a broader scale, rather than teaching them how to do one specific thing?

  • 1
    In my area there are often "Community Education" classes that teach general computer skills, usually targeted to 'seniors'. You could look over those concepts and how they are taught. Sometimes people have to learn to do something one specific way, then when they learn a second and third similar thing, you can show how to generalize. But it is hard for people to just generalize in the abstract, overall, ideally. Our brains did not evolve to do that.
    – user67695
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 19:08
  • Can't tell you how many times I walked my father through attaching an image to an email. When I realized that he had saved images in different places and using different software, I gave up trying to teach the general idea.
    – user67695
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 19:11

1 Answer 1


I am using the following method: I've installed the Teamviewer on my mom's laptop and smartphone and also am going to install something like it on her smart TV.

Every time she is confused with a task like attaching or downloading a file I can connect to her device and supervise her doing what she needs.

After 2 or 3 iterations she manages to remember the procedure and understands the general idea. We all, after all, learned all this stuff with practice.

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