Computer literacy

What exactly does it mean to be “computer literate?” When talking to some friends and family, I get the occasional “I wish I was computer literate” or “I wish I had your computer skills.”

Computer literacy is such a vague term. There are so many areas of the technology industry that one cannot say they want to be computer literate and for it to mean one specific thing. There needs to be some context to understand what the person may be referring to. I still have so much to learn. I often feel that I don’t deserve my Master’s degree in Computer Networking simply because I still have so much to learn about computers. Every day I’m reading and studying and wondering why I like technology so much. Then I go right back to reading and studying about it.

When friends and family say they aren’t computer literate, I’m not really sure what they are saying. Are they saying that they cannot do a simple search on Google? Are they saying they cannot code a web page or build a computer? The skills for using a computer varies. Anyone can be computer literate in some way. Or they say they wish they had my computer skills.. do they want to build a computer network or code? Why do they want to build a computer network? Why do they want to code or play around with Linux? I’m sure if I asked those questions I’d get weird looks or a shoulder shrug.

I see computer literacy as being able to use a computer at the hardware level. The actual computer. Input, process, output. Even if it is just using the internet, there is some literacy for using the computer itself. I don’t see why one would feel that they need to know the inner workings of a computer in order to use or say they are computer literate? Smartphones are mini computers. In some ways, there has to be some computer literacy there.

Maybe I make too much out of this? Maybe I have just heard the words ‘computer literacy’ too many times this week? Maybe I really do have too much time on my hands?


  1. Usually I only hear people say that they aren’t very “computer illiterate”. I cry a little bit on the inside for our species when I do.