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New Tech, No Problem


February 6, 2018

When I was 10 years old we got a VCR for the very first time. It was a Betamax. Yep, the cassette that was the loser in the war of the videotapes. The first thing we did was read the manual that came with the device in order to figure out how to do things like set the clock. If you grew up in the 80s, then you know that perennial joke about people who could not set the clock on their VCRs. I was able to figure it out pretty quickly, but my parents could not; and as a result, I became the official clock setter.

A few years later, I was babysitting a couple of toddlers. They wanted to watch a video, so I got one out of its case and went to the VCR to put it in. However, the two-and-a-half-year-old informed me that he was perfectly capable of doing that himself. He then went over to the TV, turned the VCR on, put the cassette in, and pressed "play." Just like that. A child that could barely form a complete sentence knew how to work the VCR. I was dumbfounded. While I had eventually figured out how to work the VCR and became the expert in my family, it did take a little bit of time. Yet this child could already do it.

When you are shown up by a child, it can be incredibly embarrassing. But it also makes perfect sense. Each generation has their own version of tech that is second nature to them but difficult for the previous generation. Whether it is VCRs or computers, if you grow up using certain devices, you will automatically have an advantage to those who have to learn it along the way. That is just how it is and is nothing to be ashamed of.

Sometimes, when an older customer comes in with a new tech device, they are a little uncomfortable asking for help because they feel as if they should already know what to do. However, one is not born knowing how to use technology. You have to be taught. If you are not taught, then you are not going to know your browser from your search engine. And most people over the age of 40 have never received any formal instruction on technology.

The good news is that there is a lot of help out there for those who came before the generation that grew up with laptops at school. Of course, many are already aware of the technology classes that we hold here at Mid-Continent Public Library. And our library staff are perfectly happy to assist our customers in getting started with whatever new tech was delivered by Santa and his elves. Just drop by your local MCPL branch with your device. But what if you can’t make it into a branch for help?

Well, don’t worry. We have plenty of other resources available to you. If you visit our virtual branch at, you will find many online courses from resources like Atomic Training and that will help you navigate your way. These databases contain video tutorials that range from topics like basic set-up to how to use features that are more advanced. You can watch these videos as many times as you need—and all for free!

The MCPL website also includes links to other web resources that might aid in learning. These sites are all librarian approved and cover subjects like how to use the internet and the various Microsoft Office products. We also have online resources that can help you improve your typing and 10-key skills. There are even resources that are in Spanish for our non-English speakers. 

One of my favorite resources is Techboomers. This one is great because it has tutorials on how to use the latest apps. Apps are the main reason a lot of people will get things like an iPad or other tablet. Once you know the basics about how to use your device, the fun is supposed to begin. Techboomers shows you how to navigate popular apps as well as popular websites like Craigslist and YouTube. They even have a tutorial about Pokémon Go!

Getting a shiny new toy to play with should be fun, not anxiety producing. And here at MCPL, we want to make sure that you enjoy your new tablet, phone, etc. without worrying that it will be too complicated to use. The truth is that every year, devices are becoming more user-friendly. All it takes is a bit of instruction, and you can be on your way to hours of enjoyment. 

Just make sure not to compare yourself to those kindergartners that are already coding. It will only end up driving you batty.

Pamela M.
Antioch Branch

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