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How to Explain to Kids How a Computer Works

Updated July 20, 2017

As your children get older and older, they will slowly become more interested in computers. They will be required to complete intensive research through the Internet and may want to play games online. When teaching your child how the computer works and how to use it, it is crucial to keep the lessons basic and fun. Remember, you are not talking to a computer science graduate, so keep your terminology basic and follow the right teaching approach.

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  1. Explain how the computer turns on. This is not complicated by any means, but you just need to explain the process of power coming from the outlet, through the cord and into the computer. Touch base on power cords and why these keep things safe.

  2. Teach them about the fan. The fan prevents overheating, which allows the computer to run for extended periods of time. Ensure you iterate the importance of turning the computer off though when not in use, as the fan will slowly wear out.

  3. Explain how the computer loads. When the computer is first bought and turned on, the user had inputted certain presets and files. These are loaded when the computer turns on, preventing the user from having to input the same specifications each time.

  4. Explain the users menu. These users were entered when the computer was first bought or were added onto whenever needed. The users menu separates the computer into individual files specific to the individual.

  5. Teach them the login process and how to log in. When a user logs in, the computer loads the files and presets specified by the specific user, which may be different from another user. Click on one of the user names available and wait for the user to load.

  6. Show and explain the desktop. Compare it to an actual desk and the icons on the desktop as files or items an individual can commonly find on a real desk.

  7. Teach them about the "Start" menu. Explain it as mission control through which every file and program can be accessed easily. Show them what it looks like by clicking "Start" and hovering over "All Programs."

  8. Explain the process of opening applications. Talk about how an "Application" or "Program" is something used to make a certain task easier, such as writing. Demonstrate the procedure of opening programs by double clicking on their icons or clicking once on them in the "All Programs" menu.

  9. Explain and show the file layout. Click "Start," then "My Documents." It will list a variety of folders such as "Videos" and "Pictures." Explain that these are their files, and any documents they create can be saved in them.

  10. Teach them how to log out. Click "Start" and select "Log Off." The computer will return to the user screen. Explain that this saves all files and folders and tucks them away until the user returns again.

  11. Explain the importance of asking to use the Internet. The child you are teaching should never feel comfortable using the Internet without permission.

  12. Teach the connection process. The cord connected to the computer connects to the modem, which connects to the telephone jack or cable TV cord and power source; which ultimately connects to a main server at the Internet service provider.

  13. Show them the Internet. Open your favourite web browser and surf around for a while. This demonstrates the important visual aspect associated with the Internet.

  14. Explain what a search engine is. Visit "Google" and show them how to use it. Signify the importance of such a service in providing information.

  15. Close the browser. Click the red "X" in the top right corner and show them how to do that.

  16. Tip

    Always show what you are doing as you are explaining it. The visuals will make the children remember. Let them do it. Allow them to have a seat and explore the computer while you are conducting certain exercises. This is a much more hands-on approach. Take the educating procedure slowly. This is not a race to teach them. Explain it in a slow manner and make sure they get it right the first time.


    Always have parental controls on your computer. Restrict Internet access to a few hours at certain intervals in the day and make sure they are not able to get on the Internet without asking. Commonly a password will provide this protection.

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About the Author

Tye Yorkshire has been publishing articles since 2008, with expertise in Web design and search-engine optimization. His work has been featured on various online publications and his short story "Inconvenient Loves" was published in "Royal Style Collections." Yorkshire received the Rookie of the Year award in 2008 from Kreative Writingz Inc. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Athabasca University.

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