What Is Computer Literacy?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Computer literacy is the ability to use computers and software. In an age where education, jobs, news, and entertainment are all available via computer, this is becoming an extremely common skill. Improving computer literacy skills can be an important part of expanding job qualifications, taking advantage of the conveniences offered by the modern computer, and even preventing identity theft or computer security breaches.

As with language fluency, there are different degrees of computer literacy. A beginner on the computer will likely know how to start up the machine, operate the mouse, keyboard, and speakers, open basic programs, save programs, and use simple accessories, such as printers. Someone with moderate computer literacy will have good Internet skills, understand the basics of software installation and use, and know basic security management techniques. An expert in computers will likely be highly proficient in dealing with all aspects of computers, may be able to repair serious computer problems, and even perform computer programming tasks.


A person may have a high level of computer literacy in some areas, but not in others. Workers that must use certain computer programs all day will tend to grow more and more skilled with those programs over time, but may be lost in the woods when it comes to the installation and mastery of video games on the same computer. Literacy may also vary by platform; a person who is an expert with one operating system may be completely confused if forced to work with a different type of platform.

Since computer use is a large part of modern daily life, developing computer literary skills is an important step for many people. Gaining experience with basic word processing, spreadsheet, and graphics programs can improve job qualifications for many different careers. Outside of the workforce, improving computer literacy can help a person explore the world of computers and the Internet, and allow him or her to maximize the usefulness of a home computer.

There are many different ways to develop computer literacy. Many books offer training in specific programs for users of every level, from novice to expert. Recreation and community centers frequently offer short training courses about basic computer use, maintenance, and security issues. Local colleges may offer longer courses that cover basic computer skills, as well as classes that train students to be experts in specific programs. Finally, the Internet can be a great source for quick answers and tutorials on using software; many computer and software manufacturers operate websites with extensive help sections and user guides.


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Post 2

I guess I'm just a gadget head, but even though I'm an English major, I've always had a knack for dealing with computers. It's always come easily to me.

I started out at my company using a huge brick of a computer that actually used 5-inch floppy disks to boot up! We graduated from that system to Windows 98 and then to XP, and now we're using Windows 7. I dread going to Windows 8. I can use it, but I really hate it.

Computer literacy is so important, rightly or wrongly, that it's going to be a necessity for most people, so might as well learn it early. I kind of envy these kids who have grown up knowing nothing else. I had to learn it as an adult, and even though I'm good, nothing compares to growing up with it and learning it like you learn to read.

Post 1

I know this much about my level of computer literacy: if I yell to the IT guy that there's a problem, he doesn't even argue with me about it. He knows I've already restarted the programs, restarted my computer, run disk cleanup, or whatever seems like the thing to do.

Being computer literate has a lot of advantages. One of them is that if the IT guy hears me scream about a problem, he knows it's probably fairly serious and is probably high on the priority list, as opposed to the poor guy across the room who is terrified of his computer and thinks it's about to blow up every time it hiccups.

Also, I don't have to call the IT guy for every little thing. I can usually handle small issues myself. That puts me on good terms with him.

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